Taiwan’s Pan grabs Canadian Open lead as McIlroy, Rose charge

Taiwan’s Pan Cheng-tsung opened and closed with back-to-back birdies to grab a two-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the US PGA Tour’s Canadian Open.

Two-time defending champion Rory McIlroy and England’s Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood charged into the hunt but it was Pan, trying to end a four-year PGA win drought, who fired a six-under par 66 to lead after 54 holes at Oakdale on 14-under 202.

Pan capped his second 66 in a row with birdie putts from just outside 10 feet at 17 and the par-5 18th.

“That put me in a good spot, but I still got a lot of work to do,” Pan said. “I won’t do too much to change.

“But you still have to play aggressive because this course, it’s a lot of rough, but if you hit it in the fairway you will have a lot of short irons in and create a lot of birdie opportunities.”

A second-place pack included world number three McIlroy, 2013 US Open champion Rose and Fleetwood, a two-time major runner-up chasing his first US PGA victory, plus Americans Mark Hubbard, Harry Higgs and Andrew Novak.

McIlroy fired a bogey-free 66, including three birdies on the front nine and three in a row on the back nine on a putt from just inside 17 feet at the par-3 11th, a tap-in after reaching the green in two at the par-5 12th and a 30-foot putt at 13.

“The key to this golf course is getting off to a good start,” McIlroy said. “I was able to do that and kept it going through the middle of the round.

“Putter went cold over those last five holes. Feel like I could have squeezed a couple more shots out of the round but overall really pleased with how I played.”

McIlroy only played nine holes on the unfamiliar layout before round one.

“Sometimes ignorance is bliss on golf courses and not knowing where the trouble is and not having memories of where not to miss it,” he said.

Fleetwood fired an impressive 64, capping his own run of three consecutive birdies with a 20-foot putt at the par-3 ninth. He then birdied five of the last seven holes, including a 14-footer at the 15 and back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13 and 17 and 18.

“Got a great round going and you just have to go out and enjoy those days when they come,” Fleetwood said. “I drove it great, put myself in position all day and managed to convert, which is a lovely feeling.”

Rose birdied six of the last seven holes in shooting 66, including five in a row starting at 12 plus a tap-in after driving the green at the par-5 18th.

“That was a lot of fun on the back nine,” Rose said.

– Taylor fires record 63 –
Canada’s Nick Taylor, hoping to be the first Canadian winner of the event since Pat Fletcher in 1954, fired a bogey-free, course-record 63 to share eighth with England’s Aaron Rai on 205.

“I’m going to try to win a golf tournament,” Taylor said. “Adding the extra pressure, if you want to call it, of being a Canadian and winning the Canadian Open would be on top of that. But I think I’m ready for the moment so we’ll see.”

Among Taylor’s nine birdie putts were a 35-footer at the third, a 15-footer at the par-5 seventh and a 25-footer at the 13th.

Chinese rookie Carl Yuan, who led after 36 holes, fired a 74 to fall back into a share of 16th on 209.


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