Baryla keeps it cool

MIKE KOREEN -- TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

ANCASTER -- Unless Chris Baryla\'s life is in danger, the Canadian amateur golfer is not going to panic. While it might be natural for guys in his position to lose focus, Baryla showed plenty of poise yesterday at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

The Vernon, B.C., golfer became the first amateur to make the cut at the Canadian Open since one of his coaches -- Doug Roxburgh, the director of the Royal Canadian Golf Association\'s player development program -- did it in 1983. Baryla, 20, shot a Canadian-best two-under-par 68 yesterday to put him in a tie for 13th at one-under 139 for the tournament, four strokes behind leader Charles Howell III.

\"(If) guys got guns to your head, that\'s intimidating,\" said Baryla, who has a year left at the University of Texas El-Paso under Canadian coach Rick Todd.

\"Playing golf, that\'s not intimidating that much. I don\'t think so, anyway.\"

Six of 19 Canadians made the cut -- the others were Mike Weir (two under for the tournament), Glen Hnatiuk of Selkirk, Man., (+1), David Morland IV of Aurora (+1), Derek Gillespie of Oshawa (+3) and Jon Mills of Brooklin (+3).

\'INTIMIDATING\'

Baryla used experience to his advantage. This summer, he qualified for the U.S. Open, where he played practice rounds with stars such as Weir, Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen, before missing the cut at six-over.

\"Any experience you get, especially playing major championship golf, is going to help you everywhere,\" he said.

\"Any tournament you\'re going to play afterwards is going to be easier or at least you\'re going to know what to expect.\"

No matter what happens this weekend, Baryla will maintain his amateur status by turning down the cheque.

\"I can\'t accept it,\" he said. \"I\'m playing as an amateur and you have to make a decision before the tournament. But I\'d be sad about (giving up) the six-figure cheque (for a top-11 finish).\"

The most disappointed Canadian yesterday was Gillespie, 25, who started the day tied with Weir as the top Canuck at one-under. He was even through nine for his second round before making four bogeys coming home.

At least Gillespie achieved something positive. He is now four-for-four in cuts made at this tournament.

\"But I\'m not out here to make cuts anymore,\" he said. \"I think I\'m good enough to compete and I was competing until the last nine holes, so I\'m pretty disappointed. But I\'ll make it a pay cheque, anyway, which is a good thing.\"


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