Hadwin has a shot to make Open history

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C. watches his tee shot while playing the 18th hole during the third...

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C. watches his tee shot while playing the 18th hole during the third round of the RBC Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf And Country Club in Vancouver, July, 23, 2011. (Richard Lam/QMI Agency)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:50 PM ET

VANCOUVER - It's the stuff of dreams for Adam Hadwin.

Sort of.

The smooth-swinging 23-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., will be in the final group on the final day of the 2011 RBC Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, sitting one shot behind third-round leader Bo Van Pelt and with a great opportunity to do something he always imagined as a kid — celebrate a PGA Tour victory.

“No offence to the Canadian Open, but my putts were to win the U.S. Open or The Masters,” Hadwin said with a smile.

He'll have to settle for a chance to make history on home soil instead.

A homegrown golfer hasn't hoisted the trophy at the Canadian Open since 1954, when Saskatchewan's Pat Fletcher pulled off an improbable victory at Vancouver's Point Grey Golf & Country Club, located just a couple of kilometres down the road from Shaughnessy.

A Canadian hasn't teed off in Sunday's final group at the annual event since 2004 at Glen Abbey, when Mike Weir watched a three-stroke lead disappear on the last day and eventually lost to Vijay Singh in a playoff.

“I think that would have been the last time we were close to bringing the national championship home,” Hadwin said. “We've got a shot (Sunday), so hopefully we can pull it off.”

Thousands of fans followed Hadwin during Saturday's third round at Shaughnessy, witnessing a mix of five birdies and three bogeys en route to a two-under 68 and a three-day tally of four-under 206.

There'll be even more spectators on his trail for Sunday's pairing with Van Pelt and Argentina's Andres Romero, who is two strokes off the pace.

“I guess it wouldn't be my first away game,” Van Pelt shrugged. “I remember the first time I played with Phil Mickelson after he won Augusta the first time, at Colonial. Somebody asked me how it was, and I said, 'Now I know what it feels like to play an away football game.'

“Obviously, the crowd was excited for him, which they should be, so I was so nervous. Everybody wants a Canadian to win, and good for (Hadwin) to come and play as well as he has.”

The only guy playing better — at least, according to the scoreboard — is Van Pelt.

The 36-year-old from Indiana made seven birdies in Saturday's third round, including a half dozen after the turn, to shoot 65 and grab the lead alone at five-under 205.

Romero also made charge, carding a three-under 67 and joining Kris Blanks (69) in a tie for third.

John Daly also fired a 67 in third round and headlines the group at two-under 208, which also includes Sean O'Hair (66), Aron Price (69) and Geoff Ogilvy (70).

Ryan Moore (67), Bud Cauley (68) and David Mathis (69) are each at one-under 209, rounding out the list of only a dozen players still sitting under par.

On a day that several of the big names in the field, such as Charl Schwartzel (73), Rickie Fowler (74) and Lee Janzen (76), tumbled down the leaderboard, everybody was talking about a guy that still thinks of himself as a no-name.

“Really, who am I?” Hadwin said. “I'm a Canadian Tour player. I'm not a PGA Tour star. I'm just playing good golf right now.”

Good enough to win?

He thinks so.

“If I do the same things I need to do, if I hit the ball on the fairway, put it on the green, and give myself putts at it, I've got a chance to win the championship,” Hadwin said. “That's my focus right now. That's it. I'm swinging great and I feel great over every shot. So I'll just go from there.”


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