OAKVILLE, ONT. - Day 2 at the RBC Canadian Open saw a challenge to Greg Norman’s Glen Abbey course record, a tug-of-war atop the leaderboard, and some good and bad surprises from the Canadians battling to make the cut.
John Merrick shot a 10-under 62 Friday morning to tie the course record set by Norman in 1986 and skyrocketed to the top of the leaderboard at 11-under. But Hunter Mahan wrestled the lead away late in the day by shooting an 8-under 64 to go 13-under for the tournament. Bubba Watson is on their trail at 9-under after shooting a 67 on Friday.
The Canadians were creating theatrics Friday too, Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont. playing one of his finest rounds at home in years for the low Canadian score of 5-under, taking him to 4-under. He made the cut, as did David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., birdying his last three holes and draining a 47-foot putt for a round of 73 to finish on the cut line at 1-under. The surprise came from top-ranked Canadian Graham DeLaet, who missed the cut. Just off his first Major, the Weyburn, Sask. native shot 73 Friday to finish at 1-over par. Four of the 18 Canadians got in, including Brad Fritsch of Manotick, Ont., who was 1-over for the day, going 2-under, and Web.com Tour player Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C, who got in at 2-under after carding a 71.
Tournament leader Mahan, who is 14th in the FedEx Cup standings and opened with a 67 on Thursday, attacked Glen Abbey’s scoreable conditions with eight birdies and no bogeys. The 31-year-old has five career wins on the PGA Tour, and four Top 10 finishes this season, but is seeking his first win of 2013.
“The course is in great shape - tee to green it's fantastic,” said Mahan. “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.”
Merrick, a 31-year-old Californian, sparked his exciting round with an eagle on the par-5 second hole and played on to birdies on eight of his final 12 holes.
Merrick has just one top-10 finish this season, which was also his first PGA Tour victory, back in February. The 38th-ranked golfer in the FedEx Cup standings says the only time he has ever scored that low was at a small municipal course in his hometown of Long Beach.
“My game has been feeling pretty good -- everything kind of clicked today,” said Merrick, who had been a very unexceptional 1-under coming into Friday. “I think I played a couple rounds in the past few weeks where I didn't make a birdie, and that doesn't happen a lot. Maybe that all kind of came back together.”
But it was Weir who created some of the biggest buzz on Friday morning, a stark comeback from his blasé first round of 73, and the first time he has made a Canadian Open cut since 2008. The crowd following the former Masters champ grew bigger and more excited with each hole.
“I really haven’t given them much to cheer about the last couple years,” said Weir, who birdied eight holes. “So to get things going today is a good feeling, to finally get with my game. It was a great feeling to have that kind of support.”
For his part, Hearn was proud of his late rally, but was very unsatisfied with just making the cut, especially after just narrowly missing his first Tour win two weeks ago.
“I don't know if I would say it was in my dreams to just make the cut by one by doing that, but yeah, it was a nice finish,” said Hearn. “I said to my caddie, let's run the tables, we've still got a chance here, and I did, so any time you do that, it feels good. I'll go into the weekend with a little bit of confidence, but I've got a lot of work to do.”