Canadian Open wide-open affair heading into final round

“And the winner is…” At the 2006 Canadian Open, it will likely be the last golfer walking off the last hole of the Hamilton Golf and Country Club today. With a leaderboard that is a passenger’s bench rather than a driver’s seat, whoever accepts the $900,000 first place cheque for the PGA Tour event, is anybody’s guess heading into today’s final round.

Even an unheralded university student, who prior to last Monday would have needed to purchase a ticket to get into the Open and whose gallery looks like a mob from the movie Beer Fest, has a chance to win this thing.

When the third round of the Open came to a close on Saturday, it was Englishman Justin Rose’s turn to step out in front. His scorecard showed a 65, a 5-under outing that gave him a one stroke advantage over four others Bart Bryant, Trevor Immelman, Sean O’Hair and Jonathan Byrd as they bring this baby home.

And three others – Steve Lowery, Brett Quigley and Jim Furyk – are just two shots back of the bank. Defending champion Mark Calcavecchia is tied for 21st, seven shots behind.

When the third round started 43 players were within five shots of the lead.

Meanwhile Victor Ciesielski, the Galt Golf and Country Club member, finds himself a national celebrity. The Cambridge resident and University of Waterloo student who needed Monday’s qualifier to get into the tournament, Cambridge, golf had a 69 on Saturday and is tied for the 31st spot with another Canadian, Brantford’s David Hearn.

Ciesielski, 21, has been treated to enthusiastic galleries, not to mention his Waterloo university supporters.
He was greeted at the 18th hole by a near-deafening round of applause normally received by established pros and tournament winners. “This is new and it’s kind of like my spotlight,” said Ciesielski. “Who knows when it’s going to come again? I’m really happy to be here and glad it’s working out in my favour.”

Ciesiekski, who is an amateur, started getting recognition from Day One when he shot a 68. On Day Two he had a hole-in-one. And on Day Three he was still in the cash running, long after Mike Weir and Stephen Ames, the two Canadian golfers everyone would have picked before him, had been dispatched. Weir, from Bright’s Grove missed the cut after the second round, and Ames, from Calgary, couldn’t over back spasms and withdrew in the same round.

Ian Leggatt, also from Cambridge, and Richard Scott from Kingsville (Ontario) are tied at 46th.

For Justin Rose, having the lead going into the final round, isn’t something he’s betting the mortgage on. “With how bunched up that leaderboard is, I feel like my lead is not really a lead,” said the 26-year-old. “You’ve got to really bet that somebody just behind is going to go out and shoot a good score. Therefore I’ve got to go out there and put together a good score as well.”

He’ll get that chance today and likely won’t have to worry about rain.

Play was delayed for two hours on Saturday when rain softened the course.