Through the first three rounds, Jim Furyk was a combined 8-under par on the back nine at Royal Montreal. On Sunday, the former two-time Canadian Open champion was found wanting over the same stretch of holes that had put him in a position to end an almost four year PGA Tour title drought.
Instead, it was South African Tim Clark who took advantage of birdie opportunities coming down the stretch for a one stroke victory over Furyk.
After recovering from an opening bogey, Clark methodically went about chasing down Furyk, who missed several chances to build upon his three stroke advantage as the pair made the turn onto the back nine. A 25-foot birdie putt at No. 11 jump started Clark's title charge. It was followed by birdies on three of the next four holes - including a 10-footer at No. 15 following a 25-minute rain delay which gave him the outright lead for good.
Furyk had one more chance to catch Clark and force a playoff but his 12-foot birdie attempt on the final hole slid wide, giving Clark only his second PGA Tour title and first since the 2010 Players Championship.
Clark's 17-under 263 total equals the 72-hole Canadian Open record set by Johnny Palmer in 1952 and Scott Piercy in 2012.
"A few years ago I felt like I had a really good chance to win this tournament," said Clark, who has two other professional wins in Canada, back in 1998 on what was previously known as the Canadian Tour. "It's certainly one I've wanted to win for a long time. I know what it means to the Canadian players to play up here and it's an honour for me to be the Open champion."
For Furyk, it was another case of being unable to close the deal on the final day. Since carrying the third round lead to victory at the 2010 Tour Championship, the 44-year-old is now winless in his last seven attempts when he's been the 54 hole leader or co-leader.
"I've got no one to blame but myself," said Furyk who didn't make a putt longer than four feet on the back nine. "I played definitely good enough to win the golf tournament, but I only made two birdies and I've got to make more putts."
Justin Hicks carded a final round 64 to finish a solo third at 13-under par while Matt Kuchar, Michael Putnam and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano all finished tied for fourth at 11-under.
Graham DeLaet's hopes of making an early move to challenge the leaders stalled with a pair of early bogeys but he found his groove on the back nine with three birdies over a five hole stretch for a closing round of 68. His four day total of 10-under par left him tied for seventh and the Weyburn, Sask. golfer will go home with the Rivermead Cup, presented to the top Canadian player at the tournament.
"It wasn't quite the weekend I had in store," said DeLaet, who was appreciative of the boistrous support from the galleries all week.
"Now I know how Phil and Tiger and those guys feel all the time because it was pretty neat. Coming down 18, it was a special moment."
Taylor Pendrith ended his first ever PGA Tour experience with a final round 1-under 69 to leave him in a tie for 43rd at 3-under par. He was the lone amateur to make the cut. Canada's top ranked amateur is now off to compete in the Canadian Men's Amateur Championship in two weeks time in Winnipeg.
David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., and Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C. both finished tied for 53rd at 2-under par. Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., shot his second straight round of 71 to finish in a tie for 66th at 2-over par.
Brad Fritsch just missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole of Sunday's fourth round of the RBC Canadian Open which would have given him a share of the course record at Royal Montreal. But he would not have been in a position to attempt that putt - or play bogey-free golf this weekend - were it not for a 30-footer on No. 18 at the end of Friday's second round that enabled the Ottawa golfer to make the cut on the number.
"I felt lucky maybe playing with house money today," said Fritsch. "I made that 30 footer on Friday, and even then we didn't know if it would be good enough. Fortunately the wind kept blowing and the cut moved to par."
Despite a birdie on the second hole Sunday, it was starting to look like another uninspiring round until Fritsch arrived at the 11th hole. From the rough he put his approach to within six feet for birdie and then on the next hole, the par-5 12th, he buried a 31-footer for eagle, which jump started his climb up the leaderboard.
"I felt kind of jilted on the front nine," said Fritsch. "And then it went off. Made a bunch of putts, including an eagle on 12, and that's when I thought, wow, we could have something really good here."
Something good indeed as he played his last 39 holes bogey-free to finish in a tie for ninth, only his second top-10 result of the season and the first since January.
Coming into the tournament, Fritsch had missed three of his last four cuts. Even with the solid result, he sits 163rd in the chase to make the season ending FedEx Cup playoffs, where only the top 125 will qualify. He is scheduled to play in the next tournament in Reno, Nevada but with many of the top golfers competing at the World Golf Championship event at Firestone, there aren't as many FedEx Cup points available. The week after is the PGA Championship, which he did not qualify for, before the final event ahead of the playoffs, the Wyndham Championship.
"I don't know how far I'll move up, but every little bit helps," he said. "I put myself a lot behind the 8 ball this year, and I'm starting to crawl out of it, and that's all I can ask for."
THE PRIDE FACTOR
It took 12 years, 10 months and 21 days but Dicky Pride finally got what he came for at Royal Montreal.
After watching Graham DeLaet and Jim Furyk both tie the course record with 7-under 63s in the second round on Friday, Pride went out on Sunday and posted a bogey-free round of his own for a share of the mark as well.
You see, the 44-year-old originally set the course record of 64 the last time the Canadian Open was held here, September 7th, 2001. That honour lasted less than a few hours as both Scott Verplank and Canadian David Morland IV managed to go one better in the same round.
After making a 12-footer for birdie on No. 15, Pride needed at least a birdie on two of the last three holes just to equal the record. On No. 16, he missed a 27-footer. On 17, he dropped a 10-foot birdie putt to put him within one and he sealed it with a six-footer on No. 18
"I had to get my course record back," said Pride. "So to tie them and go back and get it, I'm pretty happy about that.
"And I was thinking about it on 18 too, which is an idiotic thing to do, but I made the putt anyway."
Canadian Olympic gold medallists Brad Jacobs and P.K. Subban can't wait to see golf at the Summer Olympics in 2016.
"Golf is definitely a sport, just like tennis deserves to be in the Olympics," said Jacobs, who won gold for Canada in curling in Sochi. "If the elite golfers are playing, I am certainly a fan and would love to watch."
Subban credited Tiger Woods for making him a fan of golf, adding it should be an exciting addition to the Games.
"I think golf's considered one of the best sports and a lot of people enjoy watching it, so if it is a part of the Olympics, I know I'll watch."
Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report
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