DeLaet, Hughes, last Canadians in field

OAKVILLE, Ont. — A string of birdies on Nos. 15, 16, and 17 at Glen Abbey Golf Club on Friday made it clear that Graham DeLaet has finally found his stroke at the RBC Canadian Open.

DeLaet, from Weyburn, Sask., shot a 4-under 68 for the second straight round to stand with Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., at 8 under, tied for 14th. It’s a relief for DeLaet who has had a rough ride at previous Canadians Opens, only making the cut three out of seven times in the tournament.

A rainy summer, including a thunderstorm that interrupted the first round on Thursday, has made the Jack Nicklaus-designed course softer and has helped DeLaet play a simple, accurate game.

“I think more than anything, I’m just hitting fairways,” said DeLaet after signing his scorecard. “The course is so soft that you can go at almost everything if you’re in the short stuff. And the rough isn’t that long but it’s just enough to make you kind of second guess.

“So if you’re in the fairways, I think that’s going to be key for me this weekend. If I continue to hit fairways, I’ll have a shot.”

DeLaet and Hughes are the only Canadians left in the field after a projected cutline of 4 under wiped out the other 15.

“I wish there were 17 Canadians 8-under or better,” said Hughes. “It would have been really fun to get a bunch of guys in the mix, but yeah, it’s nice to have Graham in there and not to be the Lone Ranger going out there on the weekend.”

Nick Taylor (72) of Abbotsford, B.C., David Hearn (72) of Brantford, Ont., Drew Nesbitt (69) of Shanty Bay, Ont., Bryn Parry (71) of North Vancouver, B.C., and amateur Hugo Bernard (70) of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., were tied at 3 under. Amateur Austin James (72) of Bath, Ont., was 1 under.

Adam Hadwin (69), also from Abbotsford, missed the cut after finishing at even par. The highest rated Canadian golfer on the FedExCup standings, Hadwin was expected to challenge at the Canadian Open.

“That’s golf, man. It’s tough,” said DeLaet when asked about Hadwin’s early exit. “It’s a lot harder when you’re inside the ropes than on the outside.”

Hadwin, who was the second highest rated player at the tournament heading into the first round, acknowledged his problems on Twitter.

“Yes I’m struggling. No I’m not having any fun doing it. I will find it and I will be a better player than before,” Hadwin tweeted Thursday night after shooting a 75.

Mike Weir (73) of Brights Grove, Ont., Toronto’s Daniel Kim (72), Riley Wheeldon (72) of Comox, B.C., Matt Hill (76) of Sarnia, Ont., Vancouver’s Ryan Williams (77), Ottawa’s Brad Fritsch (75), Jared Du Toit (79) of Kimberley, B.C., and amateur Garrett Rank (81) of Elmira, Ont., also missed the cut.

Crowds were already starting to trail DeLaet and Hughes from hole to hole on Friday and with them the last remaining Canadians in the field, they’ll be some of the most popular players on the course Saturday.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m pumped that Graham is going to be out there with me and close to where I’m at,” said Hughes. “Hopefully I’ll hear some roars of his and he’ll hear some roars of mine and we’ll get this crowd going.”

For his part, DeLaet is just glad to be within striking distance of leader Martin Flores, who sits at 12 under after two rounds.

“I’m in the hunt,” DeLaet said. “Just to make the cut here is pretty good for me.

“I’m happy with where I’m at. I think it’s going to take two really good rounds on the weekend or something really special one of the two days. But I’m in the mix, so I’m excited about it.”

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