Canadians major Players at TPC

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- At times in Canada's modest professional golf history, we have gone entire generations without a compatriot appearing in a final pairing at a big-time international event.

Today, we will have not just the final pairing covered, but the penultimate one, as well.

Both Stephen Ames and Mike Weir are in serious contention at the prestigious Players Championship as it heads into the final round this afternoon.

Ames sits alone at the top of the leaderboard at nine under. He'll play today with Vijay Singh, who is one shot back.

Weir, who ripped off a marvellous 68 in fast and fiery conditions yesterday, will play with Sergio Garcia in the second-last pairing. Garcia is tied with Singh at eight under and Weir is at six under.

Though they've played many of the same tournaments over the past seven years, Weir and Ames have been paired only once in their careers. That occurred several years ago in a Saturday round at the Ford Championship at Doral.

Ames had a slow start to this season. He missed his first two cuts, then withdrew from the Nissan Open, then was waxed 9 and 8 by Tiger Woods at the World Match Play event at Lacosta.

He made his first cut of the year and finished 20th at Doral early this month. He finished seventh at Honda the next week and clearly has been on top of his game this week.

"I think what's really good right now is that when I stand over the ball, I haven't a single swing-thought in my mind," Ames said. "I think that's when we play our best. That's how I'm trying to play golf right now; just trying to stay in the moment."

Ames has won only once on the PGA Tour, at the 2004 Western Open. Weir has seven wins and the next one will tie him with the late, great George Knudson for the most by a Canadian.

"It's something that I know about," Weir said. "It's there. But it's not something that will cross my mind (today)."

Weir has been in position to win at least one other tournament this year, at the AT&T at Pebble Beach. On that Sunday, he was tied for the lead with Arron Oberholser but hit a ball out of bounds on the second hole and never was a factor after that.

Most of his other wins, including his 2003 Masters triumph, have been accomplished from off the lead, a position he'll be in today.

TPC Sawgrass and Augusta National are quite dissimilar courses, but one way in which they are on the same page is how the back nines set up for a title chase.

There are plenty of risk-reward opportunities at both courses and it should make for a hotly-contested afternoon.

ATMOSPHERE

"This back nine has a similar feel (to Augusta)," Weir said. "I think that's why this championship has the feel of a major. It's the atmosphere of the closing holes and the difficulty of those holes, dealing with the lead or trying to catch the leaders. There's adrenalin pumping and the crowds are really into it."

Ames has not experienced that sensation at Augusta, and unless he wins today, he'll have to wait until at least next year. He's not on the invitation list for the Masters and the only way he can get there is with a Players victory.

"I have various thoughts on that, but I won't comment," Ames said.

There are 25 players within seven shots of Ames' lead, including the top six players in the world. In these windy, perilous conditions, and on this golf course, any of them can win.

And so can a Canadian. For the first time in memory, we just don't know which one.


Videos

Photos