Hunter Mahan leads Canadian Open

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OAKVILLE, Ontario — Hunter Mahan birdied the final three holes Friday for 8-under-par 64 and a two-stroke lead after the second round of the Canadian Open.

Hunter Mahan had 8-under-par 64 on Friday to take a two-shot lead. He tied for ninth in last week's British Open at Muirfield despite shooting 75 in the final round.  FRANK GUNN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FRANK GUNN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hunter Mahan had 8-under-par 64 on Friday to take a two-shot lead. He tied for ninth in last week's British Open at Muirfield despite shooting 75 in the final round.

Coming off a ninth-place tie last week in the British Open, the five-time PGA Tour winner had eight birdies in his bogey-free round at Glen Abbey to reach 13-under 131.

“I kind of built off last week,” said Mahan, who played in the final group in the closing round of the British Open, shooting 75. “I got some good things I’m doing with my swing and everything, and feel good about that. I’m just going out there and really trying to trust my game.

“Just allow things to happen and not get in the way of myself and be as present as I can and keep my head up and keep moving forward and just kind of letting my abilities and everything that I’m doing in my game, let it try to come out.”

John Merrick is second after a course-record tying 62.

Bubba Watson is in third place, four shots off the lead at 9-under after 67.

Former Augusta State golfer Patrick Reed shot 68 and is tied for fourth place with Aaron Baddeley (68) at 8-under.

Tommy Gainey (64), former Georgia golfer Chris Kirk (69) and James Hahn (68) followed at 7-under.

North Augusta’s Scott Brown, who was one shot off the lead after an opening 66, followed that with 72 and is now seven back.

Merrick had an eagle and 10 birdies, playing the back nine in 6-under 31.

“It was a great day,” Merrick said. “I got off to a good start, hit it over the green on 2 and chipped in for eagle, and that kind of calmed me down. ... I hit it well and made a lot of putts.”

He won the Northern Trust Open in February for his first PGA Tour title.

“I’ve had stretches of good play,” Merrick said. “You know, it’s tough out here. It’s competitive. You’ve got to be on for four days, and I’ve had some good rounds here and there a couple days, and you just need to put four rounds together out here. My game has been feeling pretty good. Everything kind of clicked today.”

“I haven’t been in too much trouble,” Watson said. “When I hit it in the rough I have a decent lie or miss it in the right spot so I can hit the green in regulation. I missed three greens in two days, so I’m just hitting my irons well, playing smart golf, and then I made a few putts.”

Mike Weir was the top Canadian, following his opening 73 with a 67 to move into a tie for 26th at 4 under.

“It was a great day,” Weir said. “It was one of those rounds that could have been really anything. I could have been 10 under pretty easily, I think. But played great, and it was exciting to do that for the fans. Yesterday was so dull, one birdie and nothing happening at all, so it was great to feel that kind of support out there and give them something to cheer about.”

Pat Fletcher, born in England, was the last Canadian winner, taking the 1954 event at Point Grey in Vancouver. Carl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914. Albert Murray, a Canadian also born in England, won in 1908 and 1913.

Mahan praised the course and the setup.

“The course is in great shape,” Mahan said. “Tee to green it’s fantastic. The greens are rolling pretty true. If you hit it well out here, par 5s, you can attack the par 5s. It’s a fun golf course to play.

“I think they did a good job with the setup here because they could have grown the rough up and made it really difficult, and it’s tough to come back from a major and play the next week, especially when it’s a hard golf course. It’s really a mental grind. But I think the golf course setup is fantastic because it’s still playable but it’s still difficult and still challenging.”

LOCAL INTEREST

PATRICK REED Ex-Jaguars golfer

Score/shots back: 68-68/5

SCOTT BROWN North Augustan

Score/shots back: 66-72/7

WILL CLAXTON Swainsboro, Ga.*

Score/shots back: 69-74/12

BRIAN GAY Louisville, Ga.*

Score/shots back: 72-71/12

HENRIK NORLANDER Ex-Jaguars golfer

Score/shots back: 71-77/MC

* former resident


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