GFC Search

 

Na Villegas tied for Canadian Open lead

RSS

RBC Canadian OpenOAKVILLE, Canada ' Kevin Na skipped his senior year of high school to turn professional at 17. At 25, the Canadian Open co-leader can still be a little childish.
 
That was clear to anyone within earshot of Na and caddie Kenny Harms on Thursday at Glen Abbey as they argued about their options on the 11th hole ' a tree and the swollen 16-Mile Creek lurking ahead on the downhill par 4.

Camilo Villegas finished his first round strong on Friday with an eagle on 18. (Getty Images)
It all started on my first hole when I started after the delay on 11, which was my second hole, said Na, winless in six seasons on the PGA Tour. Pulled my tee shot into the trees and I didnt have a good lie in the rough. I had to go over the creek.
 
And I told my caddie, I said, I think I can get over the tree. He goes, Theres no way you can get over the tree. We sat and argued there for a couple minutes. I said, I can do it. He said, No, you cant.
 
He rarely says you cant do something, so he made me pitch out, and I ended up making a 15-footer for par that kind of kept the round going. And after that I started to back down and started catching fire.
 
Did he ever, birdieing the final five holes and nine of the last 12 for a 9-under 63 in the round delayed 7 1/2 hours Thursday because of rain.
 
Once in a while we get it, said Na, coming off a seventh-place tie Sunday in Milwaukee ' his seventh top-11 finish in 18 events this year.
 
Camilo Villegas matched Na late Friday morning, playing the final six holes in 6 under. The Colombian hit to an inch to set up a birdie on the 152-yard 15th and holed a 15-foot eagle chip on the par-5 18th.
 
What a great way to finish the round, said Villegas, rushing to have lunch before he headed back out for his second round.
 
Ninety-eight players were unable to finish Thursday, and 39 of them didnt even begin play until Friday.
 
The horn signaling the suspension Thursday sounded at 8:46 p.m., with players having the option to finish a hole they started. Na was fast to tee off on No. 9, making sure he didnt have to return early Friday to play one hole.
 
Thats all I was hoping for, said Na, the South Korean-born player who moved to the United States at age 8 and took up golf a year later. I was just trying to get to the tee real quick and hit. Ended up being we had 10, 15 minutes to spare, but you never know when theyre going to call it.
 
Scott Verplank, Retief Goosen, Joe Durant and Friday finishers Jerry Kelly, Peter Tomasulo and Martin Laird opened with 65s.
 
You can get after it, Kelly said about the soft course conditions.
 
Mike Weir, trying to become the first Canadian to win the national championship since Pat Fletcher in 1954, opened with a 70.
 
It was not what we wanted for this event, Weir said. Its kind of playing soft ' a dart show. Its too bad because the course is really good. Its in really good condition, but super soft.
 
Na finished his first nine with birdies on the par-5 16th and 18th, also birdied Nos. 1 and 2 and closed with five in a row for a front-nine 28, matching the tournament record set by Vijay Singh on the same nine in the second round of his 2004 victory.
 
The greens are holding, so you can get aggressive with the irons, Na said. But off the tee you must put yourself in the fairway. The rough is very thick.
 
Durant aced No. 7.
 
It was like 147 to the hole, which for me was kind of an in-between shot, Durant said. I hit a nice little smooth 8-iron. It hit about 4 feet past and drew back in.
 
He also was relieved to finish the round Thursday.
 
We were running the last couple holes to try to get done, Durant said. Itll be nice to sleep in.
 
Goosen played the four par 5s in 5 under, making eagle at the 13th.
 
Thirteen hours from tee-off to finish, said Goosen, coming off a fifth-place tie Sunday in the British Open. Ive been up since 4:30.
 
After the round began on time at 7 a.m. Thursday, rain forced the suspension of play at 8:38. The rain stopped just before noon and course workers needed more than 4 hours to drain the flooded bunkers and get the clay-based layout in shape.
 
Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to use preferred lies in the fairways ' just as they did in all four rounds last year in the rain-plagued event. While Glen Abbey was much drier Friday, players played the ball up again because of rain forecast for Saturday when the round will be completed.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 2009 RBC Canadian Open
  • Related Articles