CANADIAN OPEN: Wyndham retains lead as St. George’s shows its teeth in round two

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The sun seemed to bring out the stars at St. George’s Golf and Country Club on Friday during the 111th RBC Canadian Open.

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Five of the world’s top ten players have come to the north and, after two rounds, three of them are heading into the weekend in the top 10. It’s a welcome reward for a tournament that had been hijacked by bombs in the war between the PGA Tour and the new Greg Norman-led LIV Golf Series.

On a beautiful day in Toronto, and on a golf course that was starting to show its teeth, the top of the leaderboard came to a halt as first-round leader Wyndham Clark followed Thursday’s 63 with a level 70 and still leads by one to seven- below.

“Honestly, I played really well,” Clark said of his paired round. “It was tough there. It was windy, there were tough placements. These greens are very tough and you get to some places where you have to be defensive even from 10, 15 feet.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy continued his solid game in Canada, shooting a two-under 68 and is in a six-under group, just a shot back and well positioned to make a weekend run for a repeat.

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“Some really solid scores, it looks like I’ll be in one of the last groups tomorrow and I can play in that kind of atmosphere again today, like we had this afternoon, I’ve looking forward to it,” McIlroy said. after his tour.

After the rain at the start of the week, it was only sunshine on Friday that dried out the hilly and twisty course and made it quite an ordeal. Add a little wind and Canadian golf fans got exactly the conditions they were hoping for at a National Open, and which wouldn’t look too out of place at next week’s US Open.

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“I think the only thing this golf course needs to feel a little more major is just a little bit of length,” McIlroy said. “I think that’s the only thing missing. The rough is very penalizing, the greens are tricky, the wind is there, it’s a little dry because of the wind. All of a sudden, you have a pretty grueling golf course.

The four-time major champion is part of a five-under six-man squad with England’s Matt Fitzpatrick (70), Keith Mitchell (67), Jim Knous (67) and rookie Alex Smalley (67).

Austin Cook is only seventh at five under after shooting the round of the day, a six under 64.

Scottie Scheffler (67) and Sam Burns (69) headline a stalemate of players tied for eighth at four under. World number 9 Burns is two weeks away from a playoff win over Scheffler, his good friend and the highest ranked player in the world.

“I feel a little bad today after the number of times I had to knock it out of the raw,” Burns said. “But I think it’s a great test. I mean, this week and next week, huge importance off the tee, getting the ball in the fairway.

It was not a good day for many Canadians on the field.

Mackenzie Hughes started the day as the top four-under Canadian but gave it all back and more, shooting a five-for-75 to make the cut to one over the digits.

“Conditions-wise, whatever it was today will be next week (at the US Open),” Hughes said. “I wasn’t up for the challenge, really, I just walked away with pretty much everything, but hopefully two more days and the putter will heat up.”

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Canada’s best hopes to break the 68-year curse at our national opener are two-time PGA Tour winner Nick Taylor and Aaron Cockerill, who is making a name for himself this year in Europe on the DP World Tour. The pair have shot a matching 68 and are tied for 21st at two under going into the weekend.

” It’s going to be awesome. First event on the PGA Tour and in a decent position heading into the weekend so kinda where I want to be and see if we can throw one down on the board tomorrow and see what happens,” Cockerill said. “We get decent crowds on the European Tour, but being a local and having that local support is great. I’m sure they’ll be out in force tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to it.

Adam Hadwin shot an even par 70 and is one under over 36 holes. Canada’s best player Corey Conners (69) is tied with Adam Svensson (68) at par.

In total, six of the 20 Canadians on the field qualified.

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