Miracle run

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

ANCASTER -- Watch Victor Ciesielski walking on air here at the Canadian Open and you can almost hear the voice of deranged greenskeeper Carl Spackler played by Bill Murray, about to pulverize another flower in Caddyshack.

"Incredible Cinderella story. This unknown comes out of nowhere to lead the pack. He's at his final hole, about 465 yards away ... he's gonna hit a 2-iron, I think.

"Oh, he got all of that. The crowd is on its feet here at Ancaster, the normally reserved Ancaster crowd going wild for this young Cinderella who's come out of nowhere.

"He's got about 350 yards left, he's going to hit a 5-iron, I think (as another flower bites the dust). He's gotta be pleased with that. He's got about 195 yards left. He's a Cinderella boy. Tears in his eyes as he lines up his last shot, 195 yards and he's got an 8-iron. This crowd has gone silent. Cinderella story, out of nowhere ...

That is Victor Cieselski's Canadian Open in a nutshell. Unbelievable. Amazing. Awesome. His words, all of them.

Three days ago, 99% of the people who are watching and cheering, living and dying with Ciesielski as he defies the odds against a field of PGA Tour pros, didn't even know he existed.

Oh, the 21-year-old from Cambridge isn't going to win the Canadian Open. At three-under-par and eight shots off the lead, not even Victor himself is that naive. But, man, is he having a fun time and so are the people who thought they would be coming to Ancaster to cheer for Mike Weir or Stephen Ames, but have discovered their new best friend, Victor, instead.

"It's amazing," Ciesielski said. "You get treated like gold. It's just a dream come true. I'm playing on the PGA Tour, the second-oldest PGA event. It's amazing. It's a national event. I'm representing Canada. How good is that?"

A week ago, Ciesielski expected to be immersed in frosh week at the University of Waterloo, where he also hopes to play on the golf team. Then he won a Monday Open qualifier and, well, here he is.

TO PLAY FOR U OF W

"I missed a mandatory (team) meeting on Wednesday," he said. "I had tryouts and I'm not even on the team yet. Hopefully, they will let me come back and maybe make that up sometime."

That's a safe bet. The kid has been as cool as can be this week, handling everything, including the golf course, the galleries, his own nerves, his opponents and the media. And he's already ticked off at the media, most specifically CTV, (he'll have to get in line on that one) for tuning out before he scored a hole-in-one in Friday's second round.

"It was such a nice shot," he said. "It never left the flag. They missed out on one of the best shots of the tournament, I would think."

Yesterday he wore a pair of loud plaid slacks but promises something even more garish today. Hey, why not? This is his week, isn't it?

Time will tell whether this becomes a springboard to grand things for Cieselski, whose greatest claim to fame before he won last week's qualifier was to win the Canadian Club Champions tournament in 2005.

SIMILAR TO ROSE

Victor's magical time here is very similar to one experienced by another young, unheralded golfer in a memorable week at Royal Berkdale at the 1998 British Open. Amateur Justin Rose shot to prominence among his countrymen that week, right down to holing his final pitch shot from the fairway on Sunday. He finished sixth to great acclaim, the toast of all England.

He immediately turned pro and promptly missed 21 consecutive cuts before he started to get his act together. He may have been an overnight success at Berkdale, but the road he has taken to the final pairing today has been long and hard.

"It was an amazing experience," Rose recalled last night, "and it gave me the feeling of what could be possible with my game. I felt amazing support from the gallery. They really got behind me and I'm sure that's the same for Victor this week from the Canadian fans. It's going to be an experience he'll remember all his life."

He swings, the crowd is on its feet. It looks like a miracle! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!"

Perfect.


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