RBC Canadian Open Wrap: Moving Day for Wilson, Pettersson's 60

Leader Dean Wilson credits Mike Weir with helping him get a spot in this week's Canadian Open (photo courtesy of Dave Donnelly)

At the start of the week the talk was about a single-digit final score. Now the question is whether leader Dean Wilson can make it to 20-under par. Yep, like Saint George, these players have had little difficulty tackling the dragon.

I wrote a column about whether the course was too easy, based on all the low scores (nine of 64 or better!):

St. George’s Golf and Country Club was supposed to do the RBC Canadian Open proud. It was supposed to be the classic course that attracted a great field and demonstrated that it was, in fact, the best course in Canada.

Well, it drew a strong field, but after three wet, calm days, the dragon has turned into a pussy cat. And for self-proclaimed Swedish redneck Carl Pettersson, that cat purred some sweet sounds.
“It’s a good golf course,” Pettersson said after breaking not only the Canadian Open scoring record with a 60, but almost carding a 59 when his final putt on 18 lipped out. “I’m kind of stunned I shot 60 to be honest with you.”
He might be stunned, but no one else is. Heading into the start of the tournament, all the talk was about the nasty rough and plunging, and difficult greens. That discussion has given way to the reality of ultra-low scores, course and tournament records. Pettersson is the latest to go lower than the neckline on one of Lady Gaga’s outfits, but he isn’t alone. It started when unknown Vance Veazey tied the course record during his opening round, a number broken when Brent Delahoussaye tied the tournament record only hours later with an 8-under 62. In all there have been nine rounds of 64 or better on the course during the first three rounds. Those scores came despite predictions from the likes of Mike Weir and Stephen Ames before the tournament that the winner would be single digits under par.

Despite a mediocre 2009 campaign, Pettersson is not an unknown like some of the others who posted low scores this week. He’s won on the PGA Tour three times, and is a fascinating mix of cultures, having been born in Sweden, spent time in England and completed his schooling in North Carolina. He apparently has a fondness for pickup trucks and country and western music, not standard fare from those born in Gothenburg. Paired in the opening rounds with hotshots Camilo Villegas and Retief Goosen, Pettersson’s weak cut left him well behind is longer-hitting peers. He made the cut on the number, and hardly expected any fireworks.

“Nothing really changed today,” he said. “I was laughing with my caddie. I was like, ‘Where did this come from?”

The Star’s Dave Perkins asks the question about whether the low scores are actually a good thing:

The way the lads have slapped St. George’s around — with now nine scores at or below George Knudson’s old competitive course record of 64 — anything is possible. The super scoring all stems from greens that weren’t quite fast enough by Thursday and had zero chance to quicken due both to shortage of wind and the way the humidity and, finally, rain, hung in. This surely wasn’t what the proprietors, or the course members, were thinking about when the call came to return here after 42 years away.

“The greens were fairly soft. That’s what makes it a little easier,’’ Pettersson said. “If the greens were firmer, it would be a different ball game.’’

Makes sense, but ultimately, so what? Who cares what the scores are and how low they go? Don’t fans enjoy seeing birdies and eagles? Isn’t a bouncy leader board the best kind? Trust someone who has spent many days wandering U.S. Open courses, listening for the polite applause that comes when someone makes an eight-foot par save and everything’s a grind. It’s much more fun this way.

Dean Wilson actually leads the tournament by four, and the Star’s Doug Smith points out that he wasn’t supposed to be here. Only some help from Mike Weir got him into the field:

It helps to have friends in high places and if Dean Wilson can close out the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday, he’ll owe a measure of thanks to his old college roommate Mike Weir.

Wilson, who’ll take a four-shot lead into the final round at St. George’s, wasn’t even sure he’d have a spot in the field on Monday, but he got a sponsor’s exemption at the last minute with Weir’s pull a contributing factor.

“I’m pretty sure he had a big hand in it,” said Wilson, who fired his third successive 5-under 65 on Saturday, finishing four shots ahead of Tim Clark, Bob Estes and Carl Pettersson. “When they’re going to hand out sponsor exemptions and they’ve got a chance of giving it to a John Daly or a Dean Wilson, they’re going to lean towards John Daly. I’m sure he had a hand in it.”

Oh, and in 2008 Chez Reavie won wearing clothes by Canadian company Quagmire. Wilson wears clothes by another Canadian golf apparrel company, Hollas:

Interestingly, Wilson wears clothes by Canadian company Hollas/Second Skin. Two years ago Chez Reavie won at Glen Abbey Golf Club wearing clothes made by upstart Canadian clothing maker Quagmire. Wilson says he hooked up with the brand after it began making the Mike Weir line of clothes. Wilson was Weir’s teammate when the pair were on the golf team at Brigham Young University in Utah. Wilson met Hollas president Dan Keogh when the pair were on the Canadian Tour 15 years ago.
Keogh says Hollas will benefit from the exposure if Wilson can win on Sunday.

“It always means something to be on a winner, and we still have lots to grow in Canada,” he says. “The brand and product continues to get better and more eyeballs on it is always a positive.”

My third round notes package is also up at Sympatico. Note that the “Made Cut, Did Not Finish” rule took out three major winners — Paul Azinger, Lee Janzen and, yep, John Daly. So if you were heading out early hoping to see JD’s loud pants, you’re out of luck.

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Jeff Lancaster

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