Wilson leads record-setting Pettersson in Canada


RBC Canadian Open

TORONTO – Dean Wilson shot his third straight 5-under 65 on Saturday to take a four-stroke lead over record-setting Carl Pettersson, Tim Clark and Bob Estes in the Canadian Open, pulling away with three straight birdies at rainy St. George’s.

Before Wilson and Clark teed off, Pettersson shot a 10-under 60 in calm and dry morning conditions to break the tournament record, missing a 59 when his 30-foot birdie putt from the fringe grazed the left edge on the difficult par-4 18th.

“I hit a pretty good 6-iron in there, but the wind sort of got it,” Pettersson said. “And you can’t go past the hole because then you got no chance. And it was actually a difficult putt to get to the hole because it was very steep uphill.

“I hit a good putt. I told myself, ‘You cannot leave this short. You got to give this a chance.’ And I hit a solid putt and it was just hovering right on the left side. … With 6 inches less pace it probably would have gone in.”

Estes had a 66, and Clark shot a 69 to match Pettersson at 11 under. A day after matching the then-tournament record with a 62, Kevin Sutherland had a 65 to join Bryce Molder (63), Trevor Immelman (65) and Brock Mackenzie (68) at 10 under.

The 40-year-old Wilson, the 2006 International winner ranked 522nd in the world, got into the tournament on a sponsor exemption.

“I really appreciate that,” Wilson said.

The Hawaiian made his move midway through the round in the rain, birdieing Nos. 9-11. He made a 5-footer on the par-5 ninth, an 8-footer on the par-4 10th and another 5-foot putt on the par-5 11th to open a three-stroke lead.

“Another day in Hawaii,” Wilson said. “You just have to fight it. You have to be tougher than the rain.”

Wilson birdied the par-5 15th, holing a downhill 6-footer to get to 15 under, then gave the stroke back with a bogey on the par-3 16th after pulling his tee shot into the back left bunker. He closed with a 5-foot birdie putt on 18 after a 4-iron approach.

“This course is a great test,” he said. “I haven’t heard one bad thing about it.”

Pettersson was trying to become the second player this month and fifth overall to shoot a 59 on the PGA Tour. Paul Goydos did it July 8 in the John Deere Classic and Al Geiberger (1977 Memphis Classic), Chip Beck (1991 Las Vegas Invitational) and David Duval (1999 Bob Hope Classic) also have accomplished the feat. In May on the Japan Tour, Ryo Ishikawa shot a 58 – the lowest score ever on a major tour – to win The Crowns.

“Obviously, I’m happy with the round, but I would have loved to have seen that putt go in,” said Pettersson, a three-time PGA Tour winner. “But that’s the way it goes.”

Playing in the third group of the day after making the cut by a stroke with opening rounds of 71 and 68, the 32-year-old former North Carolina State player from Sweden had two eagles, seven birdies and a bogey.

“I thought I was going to miss the cut yesterday,” Pettersson said. “We got finished with the round and it was right on the borderline. Me and Jay Williamson were actually watching the computer to see if we were going to make the cut, and had a few Canadian beers in there. That settled me down, I think. Maybe that’s what did it.”

Pettersson broke the tournament record of 62 set by Leonard Thompson in 1981 at Glen Abbey and matched by five others, including Brent Delahoussaye on Thursday and Sutherland on Friday. Pettersson tied the tournament record for relation to par of 10 under set by Greg Norman in 1986 when Glen Abbey played to a par of 72.

The Swede hit all 13 fairways in regulation, 14 of 18 greens and was 18 for 18 on putts inside 15 feet.

“I’m reading some of the stuff in the media about St. George’s getting slayed and stuff like that,” Immelman said. “I mean, that’s fair enough, but the players are getting good, too. For Carl to shoot a 60 this morning, that’s unbelievable golf.”

Sutherland made a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to get to 11 under, but bogeyed the 18th after pushing his drive into the thick right rough.

“I played solid today,” Sutherland said. “Just had a bad drive on 18 and drew a bad lie. … I played really well when it was raining.”

John Mills and Adam Hadwin, the former Louisville player making his first PGA Tour start, were the top Canadians at 6 under. Mills had a 66, and Hadwin shot a 70.

“It’s getting kind of nasty,” Hadwin said. “Those last couple holes, I guess it was probably 12, 13, 14, it was coming down pretty hard. But then we get through it and it kind of opened up a little bit, then it just poured on us on 18.”

DIVOTS: Wilson teamed with Canadian star Mike Weir for three seasons at BYU. … Only three of the 18 Canadians in the starting field made the cut. Stephen Ames, a naturalized Canadian citizen from Trinidad and Tobago, was 2 under after a 73. … Clark played 42 bogey-free holes before dropping a stroke on No. 7.