On another glorious day at historic Royal Colwood Golf Club on Vancouver Island, Damron, who began with a two-shot lead, endured an up-and-down day to post a 1-over 71. His 54-hole total of 9-under 201 is one shot better than Michael Harris. Former U.S. Amateur runner-up Robert Hamilton is two shots off the pace, while Wes Martin and Richard Zokol are tied for fourth at 5-under along with Americans Jason Enloe, Rafael Gemoets, and Steve Schneiter.
It may be a little early to send the 20th Victoria Open championship trophy to the engraver, but the stage is now set for a double celebration in the Damron household come Sunday afternoon. Three time zones away, Robert, already a champion on the PGA Tour, sits in sixth spot at the Greater Hartford Open.
I talked to him earlier, but he goes to bed too early, laughed Damron, who will be looking to put the finishing touches on a wire-to-wire triumph Sunday. Even with the three-hour difference, its still too early. I dont want to wake him up. But I am sure it is something we will talk about tomorrow.
Damron, playing his first season on the Canadian Tour, certainly didnt show any signs of the rookie jitters on the front side Saturday, posting a 2-under 33 to widen his lead to five strokes. Things went south for the 24-year-old just after making the turn with three consecutive bogeys beginning with the par-4 10th. With his lead down to two shots over Zokol and Hamilton, Damron bounced back with a par on number 13 before a birdie on the following hole. With the outright lead on the line, Damron jarred an eight-footer for par on the final hole.
Yeah, I let it get away and that sort of bothers me, admitted Damron. I had a chance to stay comfortably in front, all I had to do was play well on the back nine. It wasnt the pressure'I would have missed the cut had I played like that. I got it going early and just kind of fizzled.
He wasnt alone. Playing partners Zokol and Schneiter couldnt make a charge on moving day either, with Zokols 72 one shot better than Schneiter Saturday.
None of us were able to get it going, everyone was struggling, Damron added. We all kind of mopped it around. To be honest, Im surprised I still have the lead.
Beginning the day four shots back of Damron, Harris, who has four runner-up showings in the past year, fired a tidy 2-under 68 to earn a spot in Sundays final grouping. Just after the three-time NCAA All-Conference selection from the University of Michigan signed his scorecard Sunday, he was asked if this was the week he finally notched that elusive win.
You know, I hope so, but I guess well see tomorrow, he said. Im not really worried about it. I just keep getting better, so I wont rush anything. Im not going to hit the panic button- whatever happens, Ill live with it. Its a golf tournament, not the end of it all.
NOTES: Hamilton, who wound up second to Bubba Dickerson at the 2001 U.S. Amateur Championship, will be looking for his best Tour finish after Saturdays 4-under 66 made up four shots on Damron. His previous best was a T6 at last years Greater Toronto Open, which allowed him to keep his card for this season.The Royal Colwood pro shop has been flooded with calls from the United States and Canada since The Golf Channel began opening round coverage Thursday. Opened in 1913, the course is one of the most renowned in the countryMember John Ronald has written Royal Colwood Golf Club: The First 90 Years, a book looking back on the history of the club.