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Pair Take the Forefront

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ontario -- If Fridays second round of the Canadian Tours Northern Ontario Open is any indication, American Mario Tiziani is proving to like the golf courses that surround the Sault Ste. Marie-Michigan border.
With an early-morning tee-time in conditions more suited for November, Tiziani fired a 3-under 67 for a 36-hole total of 4-under 136 and a share of the lead with Australian David McKenzie.
Darren Griff of Salt Spring Island, BC, is tied for third with three others at 1-under 139, while current money leader Derek Gillespie of Oshawa, ON, bounced back with a 4-under 66, the best score of the day, to get back to even-par 140.
A total of 62 players were 5-over 145 better and made the cut.
The weatherman was anything but kind to players on the morning side of the draw Friday, offering up swirling winds and temperatures that hovered around the 10-degrees Celsius mark. Earlier in the week, players played their practice rounds under sunny skies with the mercury in the mid-30s.
I tell you, when those winds pick up, you are playing a whole different golf course, said Tiziani, the brother-in-law of PGA veteran Steve Stricker. In these conditions, on this track, you shoot a couple over and it is easy to start pressing. That can take you out of the tournament in a hurry.
Tiziani, beginning the day at 1-under, got off to a slow start Friday, bogeying his first hole out of the chute. He rebounded with birdies on numbers 3 and 7 before a crucial up-and-down on the ninth hole that gave him momentum at the turn.
That putt on 3 settled me down, and I made the shots when I needed to out there, added the 2002 Panasonic Panama Open champion. To tell you the truth, I hit some awful shots but made the up-and-downs. That is the difference between a 67 and a 75.
Last year at the Bay Mills Open in Brimley, Mich., which is a short jaunt over the International Bridge from the Soo, Tiziani carried the lead into the final round, eventually settling for second place behind Jeff Quinney. That week featured nearly the same conditions as the field is facing this week at the Sault Ste. Marie GC.
McKenzie, who was also the co-leader after the opening round, had it to 5-under at one point before dropping two shots. He pulled even with a birdie putt on his final hole of the day.
Tiziani will travel to suburban Toronto on Monday morning to attempt to qualify for next weeks Nationwide Tour CPGA Championship. Should he continue to play well this week, he may save himself the qualifying round. The Northern Ontario Open champion will join Gillespie, Anders Hultman, Michael Harris, Erik Compton, Rob Johnson and Jim Salinetti as Canadian Tour players exempted into the event.
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Northern Ontario Open
  • Full coverage of the Northern Ontario Open