Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Webb Simpson each enjoyed bogey-free rounds on Saturday to join Matt Kuchar in a three-way tie for the lead at 13-under-par following the third round of the RBC Canadian Open in Hamilton, Ontario.
McIlroy, who is making his event debut, roared into contention at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club with a 6-under 64. He kicked off with a birdie at the first hole, followed by two more at Nos. 5 and 8 before making the turn. He dropped three more on the back, at Nos. 11, 15 and 17, and was first into the clubhouse at 13 under.
McIlroy missed his first cut of the season last week at The Memorial and said that gave him some extra practice time.
“I feel like I turned that missed cut into a positive,” he said. “There were a couple things in my game that were highlighted, and I had a chance to work on them. … That’s why I am where I am on the leaderboard.”
Simpson, who started the day two shots off the lead at 10 under, posted birdies at Nos. 7, 11 and 12 en route to his 3-under 67. The 33-year-old North Carolina native, whose last win came in 2018 at The Players Championship, is seeking his sixth PGA Tour win.
“Feels great. Hadn’t played a whole lot in the last couple months, so I’m excited to have a chance,” said Simpson, who hasn’t made a bogey in 54 holes and also is playing in his first Canadian Open. “That’s what we want. Every Thursday we want a chance on Sunday to get in the mix, feel the heat, and especially on a golf course that I love.”
It was not as smooth of a day for Kuchar, the second-round co-leader, who had two bogeys and three birdies in his round of 69. Kuchar dropped a shot early with a bogey at No. 3 but rebounded with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 4 and 5. He canceled out a birdie at 11 with a bogey at 15 and finished by getting up and down on 18 to shoot 1 under for the day.
“It was a tough day out there. It was hard from the get-go,” said Kuchar, a nine-time PGA Tour winner whose last win came in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii. “It’s hard to attack out there. You were looking to play safe. With the wind blowing as much as it was, with the greens firming up, you try to be in control of your golf ball as much as possible.
“Felt like I — a lot good golf, but it took a lot of good scoring to stay in the position I’m in. I was able to get up and down a good number of times today, and that was kind of the saving grace.”
In a tie for fourth are Ireland’s Shane Lowry (66), Brandt Snedeker (69) and Canada’s Adam Hadwin (67), who is aiming to become the first Canadian to win country’s national event since Pat Fletcher in 1954. Fellow Canadians Mackenzie Hughes (69, 9 under) and Nick Taylor (73, 8 under) are also within striking distance.
World No. 1-ranked Brooks Koepka, who also is making his event debut, posted a 2-over 72 on Saturday and stands tied for 50th place. Defending champion Dustin Johnson, who has an opportunity to reclaim the No. 1 ranking this week, moved into a tie for 17th place after shooting 68. Jonathan Byrd matched McIlroy for low round of the day with a 64 and moved into a tie for ninth place.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)