TORONTO (AP) — With major championship-worthy rough its only real defense, rain-softened St. George’s was no match for players able to consistently hit the narrow fairways.
“If you drive the ball in the fairway, with the greens being soft, it’s not that hard,” Kevin Sutherland said Friday after tying the Canadian Open record with an 8-under 62. “If you get in the rough, this golf course can really beat you up. And I did a pretty good job of keeping the ball in the fairway.”
So did Tim Clark, the South African who shot a bogey-free 64 for a share of the second-round lead with Dean Wilson at 10 under.
“Driving the fairway is a huge key on the course and I’ve done that,” said Clark, The Players Championship winner in May. “I certainly didn’t expect to be scoring like that around this course. I felt like it was going to be pretty tough.”
Wilson had his second straight 65 on the hilly, tree-lined course, closing with a 20-foot par putt on the par-4 18th after missing the fairway.
“That was a nice way to finish off the day,” said Wilson, the 2006 International champion. “It’s nice to get in contention and get in the mix.”
Brent Delahoussaye and Steve Wheatcroft were a stroke back. Delahoussaye had a 69 one day after matching the tournament record with a 62.
“It’s tough to follow up an 8-under-par round,” Delahoussaye said. “So, I figured anything under par today would be great for me. I’m pleased with the round.”
Wheatcroft shot a 66. J.J. Henry (65), Rob Grube (66), Hunter Mahan (67) and Brock Mackenzie (68) were 8 under, and Tim Herron (63) and defending champion Nathan Green (65) topped a five-player group at 7 under.
Sutherland, tied for 21st at 5 under after the lowest round of his PGA Tour career, took advantage of the soft, receptive greens after rain delayed the start for two hours. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to use preferred lies in the fairways, another big advantage.
“It’s a little easier out there with lift, clean and place,” Sutherland said. “The greens are soft. When we played, the wind wasn’t blowing.”
After opening with a 73, Sutherland was 5 under on his first four holes Friday, making an eagle on the par-5 11th. The 2002 Match Play Championship winner played the front nine – his first and last eight holes – in 5-under 29.
“It got kind of silly,” Sutherland said. “The hole just got so big for me. I was just making putts from everywhere. I made a putt on the last hole that I don’t even know how far it was. Seventy feet? I’m guessing, 60 feet.”
Canadian star Mike Weir, fighting tendinitis in his right arm, missed the cut for the 12th time in 20 Canadian Open starts, following his opening 72 with a 74. He finished ahead of only eight of the 154 players who completed two rounds.
“If you’re driving the ball on the fairway, you can score,” Weir said. “If you’re hitting it where I was, you can’t. You can’t score from the rough.”
Adam Hadwin, a 22-year-old former Louisville player from British Columbia, shot a 66 – holing a 15-foot par putt on 18 – to top the 18 Canadians at 6 under. Stephen Ames, a naturalized Canadian citizen from Trinidad and Tobago, was 5 under after a 68.
“That’s pretty exciting for me,” said Hadwin, making his first PGA Tour start. “Coming up to that putt on 18, I looked at the scoreboard and I saw Ames at 5, and I knew I was at 6, so I wanted to make that putt to stay low Canadian. That was a huge momentum boost for me.”
DIVOTS: Pat Fletcher, born in England, was the last Canadian winner, taking the 1954 event at Point Grey in Vancouver. Carl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914. Albert Murray, a Canadian also born in England, won in 1908 and 1913. … Because of logistical problems, the players started on Nos. 1 and 9 instead of the usual first and 10th.