American Jim Furyk moved closer to ending a personal winless streak of nearly four years when he earned a three-shot lead after the third round at the Canadian Open in Montreal on Saturday.
But a much longer national drought is likely to continue after Canadian hope Graham DeLaet three-putted the final hole to fall seven strokes from the lead on the Royal Montreal Blue Course.
No Canadian has won the country’s national open since English-born Pat Fletcher in 1954, and it has been 100 years since the last Canadian-born player triumphed.
That was of no concern to Furyk, who extended his bogey-free stretch to 50 holes as he plotted his way to a five-under-par 65.
He was not at his very sharpest, but displayed a deft short game to post a 15-under 195 total, while South African Tim Clark, boosted by an unlikely eagle at the par-four second, carded a 64 to vault into second place on 12-under.
Furyk, a 16-time PGA Tour winner, will join illustrious company if he wins on Sunday and becomes just the fifth player to win the Canadian Open three times since the event’s inception in 1904.
But the 2006 and 2007 champion will be mindful that he has let several good chances slip away since his most recent tour victory, at the 2010 Tour Championship, posting five runner-up finishes in the ensuing period.
“I’ll try not to really focus on where I stand,” he told PGATour.com. “I just need to worry about my own game and take from the last three days how well I’ve played and basically try to do the same things tomorrow.”
Clark, meanwhile, made an ideal start with a birdie at the first hole, before holing out from 50 yards at the next.
He emitted a groan after hitting the shot, clearly unhappy with his contact, but had no complaints about the outcome.
“I just thought I’d flown it about a foot too far and it actually landed right where I wanted,” Clark said. “Once it hit the ground it didn’t look like missing.”
Clark later came within a few inches of a hole-in-one at the par-three 13th, but had to settle for a tap-in birdie.
While Clark vaulted into contention, DeLaet (70) started the day two strokes from the lead and battled to remain in contact, much to the disappointment of the large gallery.
He had a good birdie chance at the last, only to three-putt from inside 10 feet after stroking his first putt four feet beyond the hole.
“I really wanted to make that birdie and got a little aggressive,” said the world number 38, who has not won on tour.
“I’m just going to give it my best tomorrow and I’ve got 35 million people rooting me on.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, Editing by Gene Cherry)