The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Amateur Pendrith soaking up atmosphere and playing well at Canadian Open

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MONTREAL - Soaking up the atmosphere is almost as important as shooting low scores for Canada's top amateur golfer Taylor Pendrith at the RBC Canadian Open.

The big-hitting Richmond Hill, Ont., product shot two-under-par 68 to sit 2-under for the tournament in the third round on Saturday.

It won't put him in position to win, but Pendrith said his first Canadian Open experience is about more than the competition on the course at Royal Montreal.

"Just getting out here and experiencing what the PGA guys experience every week is pretty awesome," the 23-year-old said. "My goal for the week was just to come out here and have some good rounds.

"Just like any other tournament, if I play good I'll make the cut. I had a good day and a bad day, but I made the cut, which was awesome. It's great to play two more rounds on the weekend."

Co-leaders Jim Furyk and Tim Petrovic had yet to tee off when Pendrith finished his round on a cool, breezy day.

Pendrith stole the show with a 65 in the opening round on Thursday, which left him tied for second place. But a 75 on Friday, which included a two-stroke penalty for a lost ball and a double bogey on the par-5 sixth hole, left him right on the cut line at even par after two rounds.

The bad round didn't faze him. He played the first 17 on Saturday at 4-under, but then put his tee shot on the 18th into a hazard and hit a weak chip shot for double bogey.

"For sure, there were a couple of swings I'd take back, but overall, I'm playing solid," said the burly Pendrith, who bombs the ball off the tee. "I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully, have a good one (on Sunday)."

He was alone among the four members of the national amateur team in the 156-man field to make the cut. The others were Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., Corey Connors of Listowel, Ont., and Chris Hemmerich of Kitchener, Ont.

Having even one advance to weekend play was a boost for the team, said national team coach Derek Ingram.

"It's great for the team and for the publicity, to get people to know the program," said Ingram. "Taylor's a great representative for our national team."

It's a rare chance to play with many of the world's top pros, but the amateurs have a busy schedule ahead.

The Canadian amateur championship is Aug. 4-7 at Elmhurst in Winnipeg. The winner of that gets into the U.S. Amateur the following week in Atlanta.

A three-man Canadian team will be picked to play the world amateur team championship Sept. 3-14 in Karuizawa, Japan.

"Taylor's done a lot to help his cause here," Ingram said of Pendrith, who is ranked 18th among world amateurs.

Among the pro players in the early groups to tee off, Brad Fritsch of Ottawa shot a bogey-free 67 to move to 3-under for the tournament, while Adam Hadwin of Burnaby, B.C., was at 3-under after a 68. Mike Weir of Bright's Grove, Ont., was 1-over on the day and for the tournament.

"No bogeys out here with the wind blowing a bit — I played nicely," said Fritsch, whose sand shot on the 18th helped save par. "Burned the edge a lot today, but I also had some good up and downs.

"It was nice to get up and down on the last, just to make sure it was bogey-free."

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