Duo Deadlocked Up North


EDMONTON, AB -- For 18 holes Saturday, Americans Chris Wall and Rob Johnson waged a tug-of-war battle during the third round of the TELUS Edmonton Open. On Sunday, theyll have the chance to do it all again.
Both players didnt exactly tear up Windermere G&CC Saturday, a day that the course was at its knees, but their 54-hole total of 9-under 204 is still good enough for a share of the lead. Arden Knoll of Kelowna, BC, Jason Enloe and Stephen Woodard are one shot back, while Alberta amateur Mike Mezei is in sole possession of sixth spot at 7-under.
Aussie Scott Hend took advantage of perfect scoring conditions early in the morning to post a course record-tying 7-under 64 to vault from a tie for 60th all the way to a 7th-place deadlock with Calgarys Dustin Risdon.
It looked like Wall, who had his best career finish earlier this year when he placed third at the Corona Ixtapa Classic, would have the outright lead before struggling to back-to-back bogeys on 15 and 16. The fact that those within striking distance couldnt pull away from the pack raised a few eyebrows.
No one near the top did anything today, and that was a bit of a surprise, admitted the 28-year-old Dallas native. Myself, I missed a couple of birdie opportunities I had. It was a very boring round, and then I stubbed my toe coming in. Those two holes were horrible.
Johnson will go looking for his second win of the season six months after winning the TravelTex.com Canadian Tour Challenge, an event that was weather-shortened to 36 holes. He hit an early speed bump Saturday with a double-bogey on the third hole but was able to bounce right back with a birdie on No. 4.
In Texas, Johnson watched the Sunday drama unfold as he sat in the comfort of a Golf Channel broadcast booth after wrapping up his second round the day before. On Sunday, he wont have that luxury.
This will be a totally different situation than in Texas, but we should have a lot of fun tomorrow, said Johnson. We both had chances today, but that doesnt matter right now. You still have to win this thing Sunday.
On Sunday, Wall will once again walk the 6,756-yard layout with Johnson, a good friend on and off the course. He has had his chances to notch his first Tour win, most notably in Ixtapa only to see Canadian Derek Gillespie catch fire in the final round en route to an eight-shot triumph.
I had that chance in Ixtapa but after Derek blew everyone away, I was basically playing for second. Tomorrow will be a new test for me. Ill just go home, have a good sleep, get out here tomorrow and see if I can get it done.
After making the cut on the number at 1-over, Hend had it to 8-under for the day through 12 holes before back-to-back bogeys late in the round. Six days after losing in a playoff across the pond in British Open qualifying, Hend was frustrated that he let some opportunities get away that would have narrowed the gap even further.
Talk about messing it up- I cant seem to do anything at all on the back side here, said Hend. With nine birdies and an eagle, you should do better than 7-under. Its disappointing, but golf is like that- what could have been.
Knoll continues to be the surprise of the week. With just 20 percent vision in his right eye after a freak accident three years ago, the 40-year-old, with a grand total of two tournament rounds under his belt in the last two seasons, has showed flashes of his former brilliance that made him one of Canadas top golfers in recent years.
I hit the ball so bad today, but I chipped and putted like a demon and was able to save something, said the 1996 Payless Open champion. It doesnt really matter what happens tomorrow- this has been a great week and Im still here.

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