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Canadian in the hunt

Ontario's Matt Hill just two off lead after Round 2 at Ridge

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Just when it looked like all you were going to see beside the names on the big leaderboard at the Player's Cup was a star-spangled American flag, Matt Hill put the Canadian flag in the chase at Pine Ridge Golf Club.

The 25-year-old from Sarnia, Ont. finished Thursday's Round 1 at four-under 67 and came out strong again Friday to shoot 3-under 68. He sits at seven-under and in a four-way tie for second place going into the last two rounds, two strokes behind leader Erik Barnes (9-under).

The wind was fierce early on for Hill, who teed off on the back nine to start his afternoon, but he quickly capitalized on a birdie opportunity on the par-4 11th and again on the 17th.

"I played well yesterday so I definitely took some confidence from that. I played well last week in Nova Scotia, and just had one bad round," Hill said. "So I feel like, you know, my last five out of six rounds have been in the 60s. I've been playing well and I think I just kinda took that into today."

The wind began to drop on Hill's back nine and he drained another birdie on the par-4 third to sit him at 7-under, one stroke behind the leader at that point.

On the next hole, a par five, Hill only needed to slap two bombs to find himself within 10 feet of an eagle to take the lead. His putt swerved just a couple of inches wide and he settled for another bird to tie him with the leader.

He said all he tried to do Friday was keep it simple and hopefully find his groove.

"I made a nice putt on my second hole so that kinda got me started. From there I just stuck to my game plan," he said. "You know, with that wind and you got a bunch of waits on some of the holes, so you just kinda had to forget about that and keep playing."

A few holes later Hill came away with his first bogey of the round on six, missing what looked like a makeable putt from about five feet. He would fight back on the seventh, sinking a birdie from about eight feet.

Then came his final hole, the dreaded uphill par-3 ninth, which has the players talking about its wicked, mushroom-shaped green.

At this point Hill was sitting alone in second at eight-under but decided to go for it, hitting a low drive to the left to avoid the huge slope but landing his ball in the trees.

"I was basically in jail," said Hill, who bogeyed the hole. "I was fine with it in the bunker on my second shot, I knew it wasn't going to be terrible, figured it was better than over the green."

For the leader Barnes, who has led the whole way, Round 2 was a far cry from his opening 63, but he got through unharmed.

Barnes bogeyed his first hole and went plus-two through the first nine holes. But three birdies and no mistakes on the second nine got him to one-under 70 on the day.

Selkirk's Travis Fredborg was the only Manitoban to make cut after two rounds. Fredborg sits at 2-over and in a tie for 58th place. He shot 1-over 72 both rounds.

kyle.edwards@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2014 C7

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