Kanada Back on Top in Texas

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Canadian Tour-LargeAUSTIN, Texas -- Texan Craig Kanada chases his first Canadian Tour championship Sunday as he takes a one-shot edge into the final round of the season-opener in his home state.

With brisk winds swirling through Barton Creek Resort and Spa Saturday, the opening round leader was able to post a 3-under 67 to take over top spot at the Yes! Golf Barton Creek Classic presented by BG Products. The Woodlands, Tex. native has put up a 11-under 201 total through three days, one shot in front of Austins Omar Uresti.

Overnight leader Scott Fords 72 left him slotted in third at 8-under along with Darren Griff of Nanaimo, BC , Ben Hayes, Anthony Rodriguez and three-time Tour champion Rob Johnson.

Both Hayes and Rodriguez are making their Tour debuts after earning playing privileges at qualifying school last month.

British Columbians Jim Rutledge and Chris Baryla are part of a five-player logjam at 7-under 205.

With the weatherman delivering conditions that were at best unpredictable, Kanada seemed mildly surprised that his number was able to hold up.

It was good enough, I guess, said Kanada. That wind was tough'all day long it would pick up, die down then switch directions. I didnt know where I stood most of the day, but I thought the leader would get to 13 or 14-under.

Coming on the heels of a bogey on the 11th after what Kanada described as two tentative swings, he was able to bounce back on the par-5 12th. Kanada found himself in a little trouble before his chip from under the trees found the green and he converted a 15-foot putt for birdie.

I just wanted to put myself in a position for Sunday. After the bogey (on 11), I thought to myself Why are you being so tentative? Its only Saturday. That put me in a better frame of mind coming in.

Rutledge hopes to win his second title in a week on two different continents. Last Sunday, the 46-year-old captured his initial Nationwide Tour triumph at the ING New Zealand Championship and currently sits second on that circuits money list.

With the final four holes playing downwind, Rutledge felt he could have crept a little closer to Kanada. Playing partner Johnson put together four birdies coming in, while Rutledge could manage just one.

I could have played a little better, he admitted after a third-round 66. I should have been able to get a little more out of the round, but Ill take it.

Kanada spent most of the off-season staying in game shape and had a top-20 showing earlier this year at the Nationwide Tours curtain-raiser in Panama.

Three years ago, Kanada had a Tour-best runner-up showing on this same course.

I have good memories of this place, he said. I think it sets up really well for me. It allows me to be creative, and that suits my game. A lot of guys out here are playing in their first tournament of the year, so that may work in my favour.

There is something about playing in his hometown that brings out the best in Uresti. One year after winning the Barton Creek Challenge playing on a sponsors exemption, Uresti will go in search of his second Tour championship at the resort.

Using a pro-am format, the first two days of the Barton Creek Classic were split between the par-70 Crenshaw Cliffside and par-72 Fazio Canyons courses. The final two rounds of the professional tournament are being played on the Crenshaw layout.

After flying from New Zealand earlier this week, Rutledge has spent most of the time trying to his bodys clock back on the North American time schedule.

Sunday would be the ideal time for the six-time Tour champion to clear the final hurdle associated with jetting halfway around the globe.

Thursday I was pretty sluggish and Friday was a little better.

I guess it gets tougher as you get older, he added with a laugh.
 
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