Pan Leads McIlroy, Rose, Four Others by Two Shots in 112th RBC Canadian Open

C.T. Pan of Taiwan was the last of the leaders to finish for the day, and he’s in first place.

The 31-year-old Pan made birdies on the first two holes and the last two in a six-under-par 66 to take a two-stroke lead over third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Justin Rose of England, Mark Hubbard, Tommy Fleetwood of England, Harry Higgs and Andy Novak after three rounds of the 112th RBC Canadian Open at Oakdale Golf and Country Club in Toronto.

“It’s always cool to see my name on the top of the leaderboard,” said Pan, who won the 2019 RBC Heritage for his only PGA Tour victory among four pro titles. “Not just leaderboards, just to be in contention. That’s all I want to do before the tournament started. Finished birdie-birdie. That put me in a good spot. But I’ve still got a lot of work to do.

“You still have to play aggressive golf here, even though this course is a lot of rough, but if you hit it in the fairway you will have a lot of short irons in and you’re going to create a lot of birdie opportunities. I played great today, and that’s what happened, and I have to keep doing that tomorrow.

“There are a lot of good players right behind me and I have to shoot a low one if I want to win.”

Pan, who closed his second round with an eagle to cap another 66, collected seven birdies against a lone bogey on the eighth hole of the third round and recorded a 54-hole score of 14-under-par 202.

McIlroy, the two-time defending RBC Canadian champion, had three birdies on each nine including three in a row through No. 13, and carded a bogey-free 66.

“I played very well on the first several holes and avoided making any bogeys because that’s the toughest part of the course, and then I heated up in the middle,” said McIlroy, who is seeking his 24th PGA Tour victory and the 37th as a pro. “Then my putter cooled off and let me down near the end, because I thought I should have had a few more birdies.

“I like this course, but this week is the first time I’ve played it, and I only played a nine-hole practice round at the beginning of the week. I do that intentionally sometimes, even on courses that I’ve played before, because I don’t want to be reminded of big mistakes I’ve made there in the past.

“But overall, it’s great to put myself in with a shot tomorrow. There’s a lot of people up there around the lead, so it’s going to be a fun day.”

Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, birdied six of the last seven holes to cap another 66, while Fleetwood amassed nine birdies and a lone bogey at No. 6 in a 64, Hubbard sank a 19-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole and have five birdies in a 66, Higgs birdied six of the last 11 holes for a 67, and Novak birdied the last two holes to complete a bogey-free 67.

Nick Taylor of Canada played early in the day and rattled off nine birdies to set the course record with a bogey-free 63 and is three shots behind in a tie for eighth with Aaron Rai of England, who sank a 12-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole to highlight his 69, while Corey Conners of Canada had three birdies in his disappointing 70 and is one more down in solo 10th.

Eighth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England had four birdies in a 69 and is tied for 20th.

Pat Fletcher was the last Canadian to win their national championship in 1954 at Point Grey Golf and Country Club in Vancouver.

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