THERE'S been plenty of great golf at the Players Cup this week in spite of the blustery weather and difficult greens.
But the magic came out when Saturday's storm passed and for the first time this week, the wind laid down for an hour.
Ricky McDonald, the smiling lefty from Edmonds, Wash., waited out the 95-minute weather delay on Saturday with the rest of the PGA Tour Canada hopefuls, then promptly went to the 14th tee and with his first post-storm swing, holed his 193-yard five-iron.
It was his first ace in competition, and the third of his golfing life.
"Thrilled," was how McDonald described the moment. "I toed it a little bit. So for it to get in was awesome. I was asking for it to get up and sure enough it did."
The bowl-shaped green at the par-3 14th is sometimes an easy proposition. And sometimes not, like on Saturday, when the hole location was way back right, near the top of the bowl's lip.
"So it was nice that I didn't have to putt," McDonald laughed.
Even better than all that, the ace helped propel him back into the thick of the chase for this week's $27,000 top prize.
After stumbling badly mid-round with five bogeys in eight holes, he was able to salvage an even-par 71 to remain at six-under-par. That's only three shots off third-round leader Timothy Madigan.
"It's always fun to be in the hunt," McDonald said.
"I finished second earlier in the year in Fort Mac so to be back in this position will be great.
"Out there with the crowds, having the pressure, all eyes on me, hopefully I can go out there tomorrow and play my game."
McDonald is just outside "The Five," in sixth spot on this year's money list coming into this week.
When Saturday's tempest blew in, dropping the temperature 10 degrees within an hour and dumping a healthy amount of rain, McDonald hunkered down in the clubhouse like everyone else.
"Just hanging out, talk to some people, see what their struggles were out there today because I know it wasn't easy for anybody," he said. "I had turned in even, but then bogeyed 10, 11 and 12, The wind was just really swirling. I struggled. I birdied 13 and then they blew the horn.
"During the break, my main goal was to finish back at even part and I took care of that quickly. I'm just thrilled."
Today could provide another mixed bag of weather, but McDonald is with the majority -- they've had quite enough wind already for one week.
"Definitely," he said. "I'm really for just some sun and clear and have it be easy."
Sundays in the final group or two, though, is never easy.
"I'm not really concerned about winning the golf tournament," McDonald said. "I would absolutely love to win, don't get me wrong, but I'm just going to go out there and play my game."
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