PGA Tour

Merrick leads early in Canada

John Merrick (AFP)
John Merrick (AFP)

Oakville - American John Merrick shot a sizzling 10-under 62 that tied the Glen Abbey Golf Club course record and vaulted him into the second round clubhouse lead at the Canadian Open on Friday.

Merrick, who began his round six shots back of overnight leader Brendan Steele, took full advantage of ideal scoring conditions with an eagle at the par-five second and eight birdies over his final 12 holes.

The 31-year-old American birdied the final two holes on the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout to complete a career-low, error-free round that equalled the course record set by Leonard Thompson in 1981 and matched Greg Norman in 1986.

"Everything kind of clicked today," said Merrick, a winner at February's Northern Trust Open.

"I think I played a couple rounds in the past few weeks where I didn't make a birdie, and that doesn't happen a lot.

"Maybe that all kind of came back together.

"Everything came in a rush."

With the first round leaders still to tee off, Merrick had put himself solidly atop the leaderboard with an 11-under 133 that left him four shots clear of compatriot Tommy Gainey (64), whose round included five straight birdies from the 13th.

American Steele, who was among the late starters, began his round four shots back of Merrick.

Canada's Mike Weir had the local fans cheering as he mounted a second day charge to move into contention with five-under 67 that left him seven shots off the pace.

The 2003 Masters champion, who is battling back from a string of injuries, had the Glen Abbey crowd buzzing as his name popped up on the leaderboard in a share for third with 14 holes completed.

But Weir wobbled down the home stretch with bogeys on three of his final four holes. Still, his four-under 140 total should see him make the projected one-under cut.

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