Less than 24 hours following an opening round 67, Tambellini, a 26-year-old native of Templeton, Calif., followed that up with a 6-under par 66 Friday and sits in a tie with Smeeth (Abbotsford, B.C.) for top spot at 11-under through two days. Smeeth carded a 67 under a blazing sun Friday afternoon. Bob Conrad (Seattle, WA), the leader heading into the day, is just one shot back. Craig Matthew (Ile Bizard, QC) also fired a 66 Friday and is three shots off the pace, as is Steve Alker (New Zealand).
After sitting in the Fort William Country Club players lounge for over an hour waiting for the fog to lift, Tambellini, starting his day on the tenth tee, went 4-under through his front nine, including four birdies in a five-hole stretch.
I was sitting in the clubhouse watching T.V. and I was getting tired, it felt like I was going to fall asleep, he laughed. But I woke up once I got on the tee.
A month ago at the TELUS Vancouver Open, Tambellini was involved in a Canadian Tour record six-man playoff, which was eventually won by Steve Scott (Wellington, Fla.). The former NCAA All-American added the experience in Vancouver was a rewarding one for him.
This game is all about believing in yourself and trusting your abilities. That playoff showed me I can play as well as anyone on this Tour. I took a lot out of that, and my confidence is at a high. I think a lot of that has carried over here.
Playing in the afternoon draw, Smeeth battled the humidity to his second straight sub-70 round for a share of the lead.
It was really tough out there today, the heat made it hard to keep focused, he admitted. My putting wasnt great, but when I needed to make the key shot, I did.
Smeeth finds himself in unfamiliar territory atop the leaderboard heading into the weekend, but stressed past wins on the amateur and mini-tour circuits should help him deal with the pressure.
Ive been in this situation beforemaybe not on the Canadian Tour, but its not like Ive never been here. Ive got to keep doing what has been working. I just have to remember there is still two more days.
Matthew, meanwhile, birdied holes nine through 13 to climb back into the hunt entering third-round play Saturday. He also drove the 321-yard, par-4 16th before dropping the 18-foot eagle putt. With two top 10 finishes on the Buy.Com Tour earlier this year, the 25-year-old admitted his work on the green made the difference Friday.
I sank a lot of putts (Friday) that I missed Thursday, he said. Its going to take some solid golf to win this tournament. To use the old clich, Ill take it one shot at a time all weekend. Im just going to go out and have some fun.
Seventy-six players shot 1'under par or better to survive the cut and will play for the $24,000 top prize Saturday and Sunday.