(Fort McMurray, AB) – PGA TOUR Canada Order of Merit leader Joel Dahmen took control of the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON on Friday, firing a 6-under 66 at Fort McMurray Golf Club to take the 36-hole lead by three shots over Vancouver, British Columbia’s Ryan Williams.
Dahmen, the PC Financial Open champion three weeks ago in Vancouver, rebounded from a bogey at the first hole with seven birdies, finishing at 15-under through 36 holes, three ahead of Williams.
“I’ve made a few putts. When you get in a groove, you just try to keep playing golf and not think about it too much,” said the Clarkston, Washington native of his red-hot play over the first two rounds. “I started to play more aggressively and the putts fell on the back nine for me.”
With a win in his back pocket already this year and the chance to take a strong grip on the top spot on PGA TOUR Canada’s Order of Merit, Dahmen said he would be trying to go full speed into the weekend to secure another victory. The 26-year-old is looking to build on experience from last year at the Cape Breton Celtic Classic presented by PC Financial, where he held the 36-hole lead by three before faltering on the weekend to a 7th place finish.
“There’s still a lot of golf left. I did the same thing last year [in Cape Breton] and had a three-shot lead going into the weekend and it didn’t pan out, so there’s still a lot left. I still have to keep the pedal down and keep going,” said Dahmen.
2014 has been a breakout season for the former University of Washington Husky, who claimed two wins on the All-American Gateway Tour this winter and now finds himself in the driver’s seat on PGA TOUR Canada, a position he admitted he hasn’t always felt comfortable in but now expects to see each time he tees it up. Dahmen credited a new mental approach crafted with former University of Washington assistant coach Jon Reehoorn, now the head coach at Oregon State, centered around playing aggressively regardless of his position on the leaderboard.
“We were talking about staying aggressive, and keeping the same mentality all the way through the round,” said Dahmen. “I really fought myself hard today, and I’m going to be excited when I text him and tell him that I did it. I fought myself early and I turned it around and played really well.”
With a great chance at another win this weekend, Dahmen said the confidence he gained from his win at the PC Financial Open has helped him play well this week.
“For me to actually win in Vancouver was huge. I know that I can do it, and I feel like I belong. I feel like I’m supposed to be at the top,” said Dahmen.
One shot behind Williams in third was Florida’s Jeff Corr, who shot 65 to finish at 11-under. Two shots behind Corr were Montreal, Quebec’s Beon-Yeong Lee, California’s Sean Shahi and Monday qualifier Kevin Spooner of West Vancouver, British Columbia at 9-under.
WILLIAMS’ NEW STRATEGY VAULTS HIM INTO THE HUNT
After missing the cut in his first three starts at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON dating back to 2012, Vancouver, British Columbia’s Ryan Williams tried a different strategy this week in Fort McMurray, playing just nine holes of a practice round and taking the driver out of his bag on the tree-lined Fort McMurray Golf and Country Club.
“I just felt that I was only going to hit [driver] once or twice out there, and I came in with pretty much no expectations. Sometimes that works better than coming out here and trying too hard,” said Williams.
The 33-year old finds himself in the hunt for the first time since last year’s Cape Breton Celtic Classic presented by PC Financial, when he finished second to Order of Merit winner Mackenzie Hughes, and said he hoped the experience would help him on the weekend.
“This is what you play for,” said Williams. “You want to be up near the lead heading into the weekend.”
DEFENDING CHAMP BOUNCES BACK WITH 64
When Riley Wheeldon won last year’s Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON, he did so despite a quadruple bogey 9 on the scorecard in a second round 75. So when Wheeldon struggled to a 73 in round one this year, he knew not to think he was out of the tournament just yet.
“Having the 9 on the card and the 75 last year kind of made the 73 yesterday a little bit easier knowing that it’s still possible, and that I just needed to play well the next three days,” said Wheeldon.
He bounced back in a big way on Friday, carding a bogey-free 64 to jump 67 spots into a tie for 13th.
“I’m still going to need to play really well because the leaders aren’t backing up,” said Wheeldon. “It’s going to be a birdie fest as long as the weather stays like this.”
Weather: 20 degrees. Winds 5 km/h. Overcast.
Syracuse, New York’s Daniel McCarthy chipped in for birdie at the 18th hole to shoot a 10-under 62, the new course record at Fort McMurray Golf Club. McCarthy started the day tied for 117th after a first round 75, and moved up 104 spots to T-13.
Golf Canada National Amateur Team players Adam Svensson (T-33) and Corey Conners (T-58) both made the cut.
Players who have made the cut in all three PGA TOUR Canada events this season: Joel Dahmen, Sean Shahi, Tim Madigan, Riley Wheeldon, Greg Eason, Michael Gligic, Chris Williams, John Catlin, Josh Persons, Chris Ross, Ryan Brehm, Bo Hoag and Clark Klaasen.
Fort McMurray native Stuart Anderson shot an even par 72 to make the cut at 3-under.
The cut came at 2-under par, with 71 players at T-58 or better making it to the weekend.
Second Round Leaderboard
1. Joel Dahmen 63-66 (-15)
2. Ryan Williams 67-65 (-12)
3. Jeff Corr 68-65 (-11)
T-4. Sean Shahi 67-68 (-9)
T-4. Beon-Yeong Lee 70-65 (-9)
T-4. Kevin Spooner 70-65 (-9)
Source: PGA Tour Canada