July 26, 2015 / 12:20 AM / 4 years ago

Hearn closes in on ending 61-year Canada drought at Canadian Open

OAKVILLE, Ontario (Reuters) - A star-studded group that includes Australian Jason Day and American Bubba Watson will attempt to prevent Canada’s David Hearn from making history at the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday.

David Hearn (CAN) hits the ball on the second tee box in the third round of the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

No Canadian has won the national golf championship since Pat Fletcher in 1954.

Hearn, however, shot a solid four-under 68 to give himself a two-shot cushion at 15-under-par 201 after three rounds at Glen Abbey on Saturday. Day and Watson sit two shots behind the Canadian, while Americans Brooks Koepka and Michael Putnam were at 12 under. American Jim Furyk and Colombia’s Camilo Villegas headline a group of five at 11-under. “It doesn’t really matter what names are where or who is doing what,” Hearn said. “If I can keep playing the way I have these first three days, I really like my chances.”

Watson, who has come from behind in the final round to win seven of his eight-career wins, Koepka, Furyk and Putnam each matched Hearn’s four-under third round.

Villegas fired a 67, while Day rallied with six birdies in his final seven holes for 69.

“It would be great to see a Canadian win, but I’m going to do my best to spoil that,” said Day, who finished tied for fourth at the British Open last Monday.

The 36-year-old Hearn, who hails from nearby Brantford and grew up five blocks away from Wayne Gretzky’s childhood home, received a lift from the supportive Canadian crowd. “It was so much fun to play in front of these hometown crowds,” he said. “They were just amazing to play in front of. It’s something I’ll always remember.”

Hearn’s bid to end the 61-year Canadian drought in this tournament is the best showing since Mike Weir lost in a three-hole playoff to Vijay Singh in 2004. Weir entered the final round with a three-shot advantage over Singh.

Hearn has yet to win in 166 PGA Tour events, though he came close in a playoff loss to Danny Lee earlier this month at the Greenbrier Classic and to Jordan Spieth at the 2013 John Deere Classic.

His last professional win came at the Alberta Classic on the Web.com Tour in August 2004.

“I’m excited about my opportunity,” Hearn said. “I’m looking forward to it and I’d like to have a putt to win this golf tournament on the last hole.”

Editing by Larry Fine

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