– Eastern Ontario Players at RBC Canadian Open Down to One –
Things looked bright for Canadians at the start of the 103rd playing of the RBC Canadian Open. 23 native sons began play on Thursday. Just five will play on the weekend.
That will include just one of the four players representing Eastern Ontario, Matt McQuillan of Kingston.
Brad Fritsch, of Manotick, Ontario looked likely to join him until a run of four bogies in his final eight holes on Friday ended his week far earlier than he hoped in his attempt to make the cut at the Canadian Open for the second straight year. His rounds of 68-73 left him two shy of the -1 cutline.
After opening rounds of 73 and 77, respectively, it less like that the Bay of Quinte raised combination of Rob Couture and Jon Mills would survive to the weekend but both gave it a strong effort. Couture, the 2011 Canadian Mid-Amateur Champion, added a 72 on Friday to finish at +5. Mills, who struggled mightily with his driver on Thursday, brought things back a bit with a 1 under par, 69, but finished one stroke back of his boyhood pal, Couture.
That leaves McQuillan as part of the small contingent of Canadians that will vie for not only the tournament title, but the consolation prize – the Rivermead Challenge Cup given to the low Canadian. David Hearn leads the pack at -4 while McQuillan is tied with amateur Albin Choi (who he will play with on Saturday), followed by Graham DeLaet at -2 and the Canadian Tour Order of Merit leader Matt Hill at -1.
With this being just his second cut made this season on the PGA Tour McQuillan is thankful for making the weekend. He is relishing the opportunity to play in front of the hometown fans and many friends and well-wishers in the crowd.
“I’m playing one of the few weekends of the year, so I’m going to have great support out here tomorrow, and hopefully I can continue to play well,” he said in the media room after his round of 67 that included five birdies and has him tied for 39th.
With his struggles this year McQuillan says he feels pressure to make the cut but that level of scrutiny goes up just a little bit with this being a home game. Even so, he feels being north of the border is a boost for him. “The home soil has helped me along, and the crowd has been great to me the last two days. I hope I can make them proud on the weekend.”
Scott Piercy (-11)
Will McGirt (-11)
Canadians (who made the 36-hole cut)
David Hearn – 68-68 (t-26), Brantford, Ontario
Matt McQuillan – 70 – 67 (t-39), Kingston, Ontario
Albin Choi (a) – 69 – 68 (t-39), Toronto, Ontario
Graham DeLaet – 69 – 69 (t-53), Weyburn, Saskatchewan
Matt Hill – 70 – 69 (t-66), Bright’s Grove, Ontario