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GOLF: Stroud surges to tie for 7th with 67 in Canada

RBC Canadian Open leaderboard

At Glen Abbey GC, Oakville, Ontario
Through three rounds; Par 72
Dustin Johnson 68-66-65—199
Byeong Hun An 66-67-66—199
Kevin Tway 66-65-68—199
Whee Kim 67-65-67—199
Hudson Swafford 66-70-67—203
Rory Sabbatini 68-67-68—203
Abraham Ancer 73-66-65—204
Joel Dahmen 69-68-67—204
Chris Stroud 65-72-67—204
Danny Lee 68-69-67—204
Robert Garrigus 63-72-69—204
Johnson Wagner 68-65-71—204
Tie-13. Tony Finau 71-67-67—205
Tie-37. Shawn Stefani 70-70-68—208


Chris Stroud, donning a Houston Astros ballcap, poses next to a frame of two-time Canadian Open champion Bruce Lietzke following Saturday’s round of the tournament. (Courtesy of Chris Stroud)

A wall featuring past Canadian Open champions at a clubhouse in Oakville, Ontario. (Courtesy of Chris Stroud)

Chris Stroud found his putter, lost his driver and salvaged his third round in the Canadian Open Saturday with some spectacular short-game play.

A day after falling back in the pack with a 72, underscored by one missed opportunity after another with his putter, Stroud rebounded with a 5-under-par 67. He moved 16 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for seventh, despite hitting only 5 of 14 fairways and 8 of 18 greens.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Stroud. “It’s a crazy game. I hit some awesome wedges and rolled in some clutch putts to save pars. I’m headed to the practice tee to get my driver straightened out. I need to go really low on Sunday.”

Indeed he does. At 12-under par 204, the Port Neches-Groves ex is five shots back. Even worse, he is five behind four players, including world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Catching one or two of them is probably doable. Gaining five shots on four players probably requires a miracle.

“I want to shoot lights out to honor Bruce Lietzke,” said Stroud.

Lietzke, who passed away Saturday after a 15-month battle with brain cancer, was a two-time winner of the Canadian Open. He would undoubtedly have been impressed with the 67 Stroud authored Saturday.

For openers, he needed only 25 putts. That number was helped out by a chip-in birdie from 43 feet on the par-4 seventh hole that got him back to par for the day and ignited his round. Over the final 11 holes, Stroud would card five birdies and six pars.

He’s now tied for fourth in birdies for the week with 18.

Three of Saturday’s birdies came on the four par 5 holes at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario. He is now 10 for 12 in birdies on the par 5s. Two of the par 5-birdies came after eagle putts from 36 feet on 16 and 31 feet on 18. His longest birdie putt was 11 feet.

“I was so much better with the putter today,” said Stroud. “But I also executed some really tough chip shots. I spent a lot of time on the putting green Friday afternoon. My caddie (Casey Clendenon) saw something wrong in my setup and it really made a difference.”

Though Stroud is five shots off the lead, he is only one stroke out of fifth place. Considering that his best finish this year in a full field PGA Tour event is a T30, he senses a real turning point in his 2017-18 season.

“The work I did with Chuck Cook has paid a quick dividend,” he said of a Tuesday session with the renowned instructor in Austin. “Instead of fighting to make the cut I am fighting for a high finish. That’s the way it needs to be.

“This is a great jump start for me defending the Barracuda Championship next week in Reno.”
While Stroud was shooting 67 on Saturday, his former Lamar teammate Shawn Stefani carded a 68. Stefani is at 218 and tied for 37th.

In the Web.com Price Cutter Championship in Springfield, Missouri, Lamar ex Dawie van der Walt shot 71 for 205 and is tied for 39th. West Orange-Stark’s Michael Arnaud also shot 71, is at 206 and is tied for 49th.