WATCH ABOVE: Derek Meyers and golf analyst Robert Thompson recap the third round of the RBC Canadian Open where Jim Furyk continued to dominate, while Canadian Graham DeLaet had an up and down day.
Ile-Bizard, Que.—Oh Canada.
For whatever reason, often something they can’t explain, some of the PGA Tour’s best have a terrific relationship with the land of the true north strong and free.
Example one: Jim Furyk, leader of the RBC Canadian Open heading into the final round by three shots at 15-under par. Furyk has won 16 times in a hall of fame career that includes a U.S. Open win. But he’s also recorded back-to-back Canadian Open wins at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster, Ont. and Angus Glen in Markham, Ont.
WATCH: Top Canadian Graham DeLaet discusses his up and down day and the opportunity to catch Jim Furyk on Sunday.
He’s also been to Royal Montreal, site of this week’s RBC Canadian Open twice before—once early in his career in 1997 and a decade later at the Presidents Cup.
Furyk has no explanation for his Canadian success. He’s won on different golf courses in Canada, a factor that doesn’t really yield any benefits to what has happened in the past three days—or what will happen tomorrow—at Royal Montreal.
“If you’re returning to Hamilton or returning to Angus Glen you can draw from experiences and shots that you’ve hit,” he says.
That doesn’t mean there’s not a benefit to his past successes. He has a link to RBC, part of a group of golfers sponsored by the bank, and says the fan support has been impressive, even when he was paired with Canadian star Graham DeLaet and Matt Kuchar.
WATCH: Jim Furyk takes control in third round as Graham DeLaet falls back. Derek Meyers reports
READ MORE: Live coverage of the 2014 RBC Canadian Open
“I have definitely been treated very well,” he says. “It was fun to play with Graham and Kuch. We’re all with team RBC, obviously Graham being Canada’s best player at the moment [he] got a lot of support out there, but I felt like Matt and I did as well from winning here a couple of times. I always feel like I get quite a bit of support, so it’s nice to see.”
Then there’s Tim Clark, the diminutive South African who won the 2010 Players Championship. Clark has a real shot at winning this week in Montreal; he’s only three shots back of Furyk, and will play alongside the American on Sunday at the Canadian Open, and only has one bogey in his first three rounds.
Canada, apparently, suits him well. But his connection to the country is longstanding. Clark’s career started a long way from the palatial fairways and free rental cars found on the PGA Tour. As a new pro, Clark received exemptions into Canadian Tour events in 1998 after winning the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
WATCH: Canadian David Hearn discusses his struggles on the greens and the frustration of not posting a better score.
Too young to rent a car, he jumped into the back seat of vehicles driven by fellow South Africans and toured around Canada. And he won—his first professional win came in New Brunswick, followed by a second victory in London, Ont.
“I was doing a lot of mini-tour stuff and just burning through money, not making cuts and I was fortunate enough that I was given a few starts up here in Canada,” he says. “I won the New Brunswick Open and that got me into the CPGA Championship.”
Interestingly after his first win Clark also found a love for Canadian beer. He celebrated so much that he barely made it to London, making the cut at the PGA Championship with little room to spare. He went on to shoot the course record.
“I didn’t play one practice round for those two weeks, one due to weather and one due to celebrating the week before,” he joked.
Asked now if he remembers those days fondly, he nods vigorously.
“The experience of travelling around Canada, and then two years on the Web.com Tour and driving everywhere and staying in houses,” he says. “It was great fun. At that age there was no stress. Nothing to worry about. No car or house to pay for. Nothing to worry about other than golf.”
Tomorrow Clark will play with Furyk in the final group, which tees off at 10:05 a.m. because of weather concerns. Both will be leaning on their past Canadian successes and hoping they are a harbinger of the future.
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