Calcavecchia hangs tough

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- For the second year in a row, a Canadian was in contention at the Bell Canadian Open into the closing stages.

But in the end, history prevailed. It's been 51 years since one of our own stood in the winner's circle and it will be at least 12 more months until that might happen again.

Indeed it is a popular notion that it may never happen, given the overwhelming pressure on so few potential candidates.

"Canadians are hungry for a Canadian champion, that's for sure," said Stephen Ames, whose best yesterday was a one-over-par 72, eight shots more than he used on Saturday to solve Shaughnessy.

But instead of a Canadian, 45-year-old American veteran Mark Calcavecchia sits on the throne for the next year, with a 72-hole total of 275, just five under par.

Calcavecchia spent the first two days of the tournament building a big lead at eight under and, in the end, he would need all of it to stave off Tour youngsters Ben Crane and Ryan Moore, who finished tied for second one shot behind.

Jesper Parnevik was alone at three under, while Joey Sindelar and Jerry kelly tied for fifth. Ames faltered late as he tried to push the issue, and finished tied with Vijay Singh and Trevor Immelman at 279.

Ames, who grew up in Trinidad and became a Canadian citizen two years ago, witnessed from afar the near-hysteria surrounding Mike Weir the past couple of years, at Hamilton in 2003, and especially last year at Glen Abbey.

Yesterday, he experienced the will of the people in a much more personal way. Coming to the final tee at three under, Ames knew he had to make a birdie and hope that Calcavecchia would make bogey to force a playoff.

Instead, Ames missed the fairway for a double-bogey.

"I guess I added to the pressure being in that situation," he said. "I haven't been in that sitaution. I was trying to press the issue a little bit rather than just let it happen."

Ames was the darling of the Vancouver galleries both days on the weekend. His 64 on Saturday was the low round of the event, but the course stiffened yesterday.

"Not too many guys broke par today," he said. "I think the golf course won this week, without a doubt."

"It was playing very difficult out there," said Moore, the 2004 U.S. Amateur champ who turned pro just this summer and is trying to accumulate enough money to save himself the aggravation of qualifying this December.

"It was a great test and a great week for me," he said.

A testament to how difficult the course played was the fact that Calcavecchia made only one birdie in the last two rounds, but none of his many pursuers could light it up enough to catch him.

"I wanted to make birdies, believe me," he said. "It was just very hard out there. I still made a lot of good shots when I needed to."

While no firm plans are in place, it seems inevitable, given the positive response to Shaughnessy by most players that the Canadian Open will return there, though not until 2011.


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