OAKVILLE, Ont. – David Hearn shot 4-under 68 to take a 2-shot lead into the final round of the 2015 RBC Canadian Open in Oakville, Ont.
No Canadian has held the lead heading into the final round since Mike Weir in 2004. Hearn will attempt to become the first Canadian since Pat Fletcher in 1954 to claim the title of Canada’s National Open Champion in the 106th playing of the tournament.
“I played real solid today. And I couldn’t be happier with where my game’s at right now. Getting on to that first tee today, the ovation I received was something I’ll remember for a very long time.” said Hearn when asked about today’s round, which included five birdies.
Hearn embraced the pressure of playing in front of his fellow countrymen and instead used the support to his advantage.
“Every green we walked onto, people were cheering me on. And it was a lot of fun to play today and I kind of fed off that energy for sure,” he added. “Overall, I’m very happy with where my game’s at and I’m excited about tomorrow.”
The world’s No. 128 ranked player fended off advances from American Bubba Watson and Australia’s Jason Day. The pair sit knotted in second at -13. Despite the company of two players ranked within the world’s top-10, Hearn remained focused on the task at hand.
“Whatever anybody else does, it boils down to me. I still have to go out there tomorrow and perform. And I still have to go out and hit good shots and make birdies,” said Hearn. “It doesn’t really matter what names are where or who is doing what. If I can keep playing the way I have these first three days, I really like my chances.”
Watson, the World No. 3, held a share of sixth place heading into the third round. The Florida native tallied five birdies and an eagle en route to a round of 68.
“It was a good day,” reflected Watson. “The front nine is always tough for me because of trying to get the ball in the fairways. To get up-and-down on 17 was big. So I’m right where I want to be.”
When asked about the supportive Canadian crowd, Watson hoped the cheers would go beyond the hometown favourite.
“They’re going to pull for a guy that’s playing good. They want to see good golf shots,” he added. “Obviously, he’s from Canada, so they’ll be pulling for him a bit more. I married a Canadian, so hopefully they’ll pull for me as well.”
Despite a bogey and a double bogey on holes 10 and 11, Jason Day has a share of second thanks to a string of six birdies across his final seven.
“I know that I’m not going to quit until the 72nd hole is done,” Day said with resolve. “To get a run like that was great. It puts you back in the tournament. It gives you an opportunity to maybe chase the lead down tomorrow. With the slightly lower winds tomorrow, I think the scoring opportunity is going to be there.”
Chasing Hearn are World No. 23 Brooks Koepka and fellow American Michael Putnam who sit T4 at 12-under. World No. 7 and two-time RBC Canadian Open champion, Jim Furyk, is tied for sixth with opening-round leader Emiliano Grillo, second-round leader Chad Campbell and Colombia’s Camilo Villegas.
The two Canadian amateurs who survived Friday’s cut will not play Sunday because of the PGA TOUR’s made cut, did not finish rule. In 2008, the Tour instituted the rule that sees a second cut made when more than 78 players survive the 36-hole cut. Blair Hamilton of Burlington, Ont., and Austin Connelly of Irving, Texas finished at 1-under and will be co-recipients of the Gary Cowan Award which is given to the low amateur at the RBC Canadian Open.
Tee times for the final round of the 2015 RBC Canadian Open are available here.