Johnson Jumps Out Front


EDMONTON, AB -- Rob Johnson of Terre Haute, Ind., will go in search of his second win of the season when he takes the lead into the weekend at the Canadian Tours TELUS Edmonton Open. This time, however, he will have to play a little extra golf than he did in February if he has his sights set on some championship hardware come Sunday afternoon.
The reigning Canadian Tour Challenge champion holed out for eagle from the fairway on his final hole Friday to put the finishing touches on a course record-tying 7-under 64 at Windermere G&CC. His two-day total of 9-under 133 is good enough for a one shot edge on Arden Knoll and Chris Wall. Jason Enloe and Stephen Woodard are two shots back at 7-under.
A total of 72 players were 1-over 143 or better and made the cut. John Mills, who won last weeks MTS Classic in Winnipeg, is at 4-under after a 67 Friday, while current money leader and fellow Oshawa native Derek Gillespie sits at 2-under 140.
Back in February, Johnson won his initial crown in the Lone Star State in what was the first four round event in Tour history to be reduced to 36-holes. In as complicated as a scenario as you will see in the world of professional golf, Johnson watched Sundays final round from the comfort of a Golf Channel broadcast booth after wrapping up his second round late on Saturday evening.
I dont think rain will be coming here, so it looks like I will have to play some golf this weekend, laughed Johnson, referring to the clear skies and mild temperatures that blanketed Windermere Friday. It was a little bit more relaxing watching on TV in Texas, but we should have some fun out here.
Knoll continued to be the feel-good story in Edmonton with his second consecutive 67. Since a hornet bite cost him 80 per cent vision in his right eye three summers ago, the 40-year-old has essentially taken a sabbatical from the game, taking part in just a pair of tournament rounds in the past two seasons prior to this week. His round may have lacked the tidiness and polish from Thursdays opener, but Knoll wasnt about to dwell on a few errant putts that got away from him in round two.
I played a scrappy round today, but hit enough good shots to keep me in position, admitted the 1996 Payless Open champion. I missed a couple of four-foot putts that didnt even sniff the cup, but I was able to do enough out there to get it around.
Should he win the tournament Sunday afternoon, dont assume Knoll will be in rush to return to the Canadian Tour ranks on a full-time basis. Now enjoying his new career as the Canadian representative for TaylorMade golf clubs, Knoll can still hold the same passion for the sport he loves without the worry of making cuts in order to take home a weekly cheque.
I had no realistic expectations at all coming in here. I know I can win the golf tournament, otherwise I wouldnt be here. I always thought I was a talented player, and I think I still have the game. But there is more to life for me now than playing golf. Well see in time, but that time is not now.
Wall had a career-best tie for third earlier this season at the Corona Ixtapa Classic and will be looking to move up the ladder in Edmonton over the next two days. He couldnt get up and down on his final hole Friday to save par, but will still be in the final pairing Saturday. Its an experience he is looking forward to.
Ive been close before, but I just cant seem to put four great rounds together, said Wall. Maybe this week I can get it done. Ive never really been in this position, so I dont know if it is better to be the hunter or the hunted. Well find out this weekend.
Sitting one shot behind Wall after his tee shot on his final hole sailed right into rough, Johnson scooped the ball out with a 9-iron from 157 yards, and watched as it bounced once before finding the bottom of the cup. The late two-shot swing guaranteed Johnson a spot atop the leaderboard with 36 holes to go.
That was an amazing way to finish, he said, adding he will not put any pressure on himself heading into Saturday. Anytime you can pull that off to get to 7-under for the round, it feels like a hole in one. Im not going to think about what it will take to win this weekend. I am hitting the ball well, and I gained a lot of confidence from the win in Texas. Well see where that leads us in the next couple of days.
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