TORONTO, Canada: David Hearn will try to become the first home-grown golfer in 61 years to win the Canadian Open when he takes a two-stroke lead over Bubba Watson and Jason Day into Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) final round.
Hearn had five birdies and a bogey in a four-under par 68 on Saturday, his 54-hole total of 201 putting him two shots in front of two-time Masters champion Watson and Australia’s world number nine Day.
Hearn led by as many as four shots on the back nine, but Watson closed the gap with a 68 that included five birdies and an eagle on the par-five 13th while Day roared back from a double-bogey six at the 11th with birdies at six of his last seven holes.
That included a run of four birdies to end the round for the Australian, who is coming off a tie for fourth at the weather-disrupted British Open that ended at St. Andrews on Monday.
If Hearn can win his first US PGA Tour title on Sunday, he’ll become the first Canadian since Pat Fletcher in 1954 to lift the trophy.
It’s a feat Canadian fans are desperate to see.
“The ovation on the first tee was something I will remember for a long time,” Hearn said of his reception on Saturday, when he started the round four strokes behind overnight leader Chad Campbell.
“It was a lot of fun out there, a really special day.”
Hearn got off to a solid start with birdies at the second, seventh and eighth holes and stretched his lead to four shots with back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16.
However he gave a stroke back with a bogey at 17 and settled for a par at the par-five 18th.
“It’s a dream to be in the final group tomorrow and I like the way I’m playing,” Hearn said. “It’s been so long since a Canadian won and everyone wants to win their national championship, but it’s hard to win any tournament on the PGA Tour.
“If I could win tomorrow, it would be the highlight of my career.”
However, he has proven winners nipping at his heels.
Watson, who finished the second round with two eagles on his last three holes, rolled in an 18-foot eagle putt at 13 and birdied the last.
“I knew I had to make that putt on the last hole to get into the last group, so that was really big,” said Watson, keen to bounce back after missing the cut at the British Open. “I hung in there and made some big putts.”