Saturday’s golf: McIlroy moves into share of lead at Canadian Open
Ancaster, Ontario — Rory McIlroy added the Canadian Open to his schedule as a tune-up for next week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Now he has a chance to add another national championship to his already impressive tally.
The Northern Irishman shot a bogey-free 6-under 64 on Saturday to move into a share of the lead after three rounds at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.
“I think the best preparation for tournaments ahead is to get yourself into contention and feel the heat of battle, and going down the stretch hitting the shots when you need to,” McIlroy said. “If you can do that then I don’t think there is anything else in the game that will give you more confidence than that.”
Seeking his second victory of the season, McIlroy surged into a tie with Webb Simpson (67) and Matt Kuchar (69) at 13-under 197. McIlroy’s round was tied for best on the day with Jonathan Byrd, who was tied for ninth at 8 under. Kuchar, who also shared the second-round lead, has a shot at his career-best third victory of the season.
Adam Hadwin, seeking to become the first Canadian winner of the event since 1954, was one shot back after a 67. Shane Lowry (66) and Brandt Snedeker (69) were also 12 under.
McIlroy won The Players Championship in March but has not seriously contended since. A victory would be his fifth in a national open, following the U.S. Open (2011), Australian Open (2013), British Open (2014) and Irish Open (2016). McIroy also counts the Hong Kong Open (2011) as part of his national-championship tally.
“National championships are very important. They’re the oldest championships in our game for the most part,” McIlroy said. “If someone said to me earlier, ‘Do you know how many national opens you’ve won?’ I could count them and I’ve won five.
“If I were able to win tomorrow that would be my sixth and that would be something I would be very proud of.”
Simpson has played 54 holes without a bogey.
“I think the times when it’s a guess this week I’ve guessed correctly,” Simpson said. “And I’ve been putting well, especially inside 10 feet. I’ve had to make a few 6-, 7-footers, but so far they’ve gone in and haven’t made a blemish yet.”
Snedeker, who shot a tournament-record 60 on Friday, said the conditions were much tougher in the third round.
“It’s always hard to follow up a low round like I did yesterday,” Snedeker said. “Today was a tough day. Wind was blowing, hard to put the ball in the fairway, and then the greens are firm and bouncing so really hard to get them close.”
Hadwin will face intense pressure as he tries to win his national open, but he said the Hamilton layout suits his game.
“We’ll see what happens … with what the wind is doing and how firm everything has gotten,” Hadwin said. “The nice thing about this place, because it’s a little bit shorter, if you hit it well you can post a 5-, 6-under pretty solidly, like Rory today, or it can get you.”
Jeongeun Lee6 was finishing up a lackluster second round at the ShopRite LPGA Classic before buckling down over the final two holes.
Standing at 1-over par for her round after 16 holes, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion put together a birdie-eagle finish, sinking a 4-foot putt at the par-5 18th, to grab a one-stroke lead after 36 holes.
Lee6 shot a 2-under-par 69 at the windswept Bay Course at Seaview to move to 10-under 132. She will enter Sunday’s final round for the $262,500 first-prize check seeking to become only the fifth player in LPGA history to win the Women’s Open and the following tournament in back-to-back weeks.
Louise Suggs (1952), Jane Geddes (1986), Se Ri Pak (1998) and Meg Mallon (2004) are the others to have accomplished the feat.
“My shots were pretty good. It’s just my putting and it was not good enough,” Lee6 said through an interpreter. “But I know 16, 17, 18, the yardages are pretty short. I know 16 I could have done a little bit better but holes 17 and 18, I think I did pretty good with it.”
Mariah Stackhouse, who contended at this event last year and finished in a tie for seventh, shot a 67 and held second place with a 133 total in her quest to become the first African-American woman to win an LPGA Tour event. She said it is something she will not think about Sunday when she’s on the course.
Thailand won a nearest-the-pin playoff against England to lift the trophy at the GolfSixes event on the European Tour in Portugal.
Phachara Khongwatmai hit a shot to inside six feet to clinch victory with Thongchai Jaidee over English pair Tom Lewis and Paul Waring.
Thailand had beaten defending champion Ireland on Day 1 of the modified greensomes event as Jaidee made a hole-in-one on the final hole in the group stages.
Khongwatmai and Jaidee had a 3-1 win over Scotland in the quarterfinals and a 1-0 victory against Spain in the semifinals.