Hot shots at Montreal Championship

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:39 PM ET

BLAINVILLE, Que. - Moving Day at the Montreal Championship turned into a stampede.

With the Champions Tour players just eating up the Fontainebleau golf course, there’s a Bell Centre-size crowd right behind leader John Cook, with 16 players within four shots of the lead heading into Sunday’s final round.

Cook had his second-straight 66 for a 132 total, one ahead of first-round co-leader Russ Cochran, the lefty whose hot putter (just 50 putts through two rounds), helped him to a 68 Saturday.

Some of the big names in the field, like former Masters champions Craig Stadler and Fred Couples, took advantage of Fontainebleau’s fat fairways - up to 60 yards wide in some spots - and welcoming greens to battle into the picture. A limping Stadler had a 7-under-par 65 while Couples had a 66, bringing both men within three of Cook’s pace at 9-under. They're part of a logjam at third with six others: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, D.A. Weibring (who had a course record 63), David Frost, former Masters champ Larry Mize, Peter Senior and James Mason.

There’s seven more at 8-under, four off the lead: Mark Calcavecchia, Loren Roberts, Tom Lehman, David Peoples, Jay Haas, Jay Don Blake and first-round co-leader Tom Wargo.

Just a little bit of name recognition there.

It all sets up for a wild finish Sunday.

“If we don’t get any wind, it’s going to be a shootout, for sure,” said Cook, a former Canadian Open champ. “These guys are not going to lay down. I’m not going to lay down.

“I won’t worry about anything until the backside.”

Big crowds and a good-looking leaderboard are making this inaugural event a huge success. Just under 20,000 turned out Saturday and the three-day total is expected to top 50,000, said tournament director Dave Skitt.

The presence of marquee names on the leaderboard should bring out more fans Sunday.

“I’m right back in the tournament,” said Couples, who had six birdies and an eagle on the day and leads the Champions Tour with three wins this year. “Sunday is going to be a crapshoot. The hottest round usually wins, but there could be a lot of hot rounds.”

Weibring’s bogey-free 63 got him into the picture. Not bad for a guy who could barely swing because of bone spur in his left shoulder and struggled with the cold weather early in the week. A couple of sessions in the physiotherapy trailer resurrected him Saturday after an even-par 72 in the opening round.

“I felt like a different person (Saturday),” said Weibring. “I felt like I had a chance to make some shots. You don’t think you’re going to go out and shoot 63.

“Every day that record is going to be in jeopardy, but it’s nice to have it for one day. Who knows how long it will last?”

Stadler’s 65 was fired by some solid iron play and the overcoming of some physical issues.

“I’m just happy to finish every week,” said the Walrus. “I’m pretty much a cripple out there. I don’t drive it anywhere because I’ve got nothing on the left side. Just all kinds of things. My hip is out of whack, got married, had shingles, so life has been a real joy for the last couple of months.”

Even getting married?

“That’s been the best part,” he said. “The day I got married is the day I got the shingles, but we won’t get into that. I got a hip injection two weeks ago. It’s a pain in the ass being an old guy.”

But a bunch of these old guys still know how to get the ball in the hole.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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