VANCOUVER - Along with his talent and composure, Adam Hadwin will take some perspective into Sunday's final round of the RBC Canadian Open.
Sitting alone in second spot, just one shot back of leader Bo Van Pelt, the Abbotsford, B.C., native is in position to become the first Canadian in 57 years to win the country's national golf championship.
Well spoken and thoughtful, the 23-year-old seemed totally unfazed by the pressures and expectations he will carry into the final 18 holes.
"Really, who am I?'' shrugged Hadwin after shooting a 2-under-par 68 Saturday at the Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club to sit at 4 under.
"I'm a Canadian Tour player. I'm not a PGA Tour star. I'm just playing good golf right now. If I just do the same things I need to do, if I hit the ball on the fairway and put it on the green and give myself putts, I have a chance to win this championship tomorrow.''
Listen to Hadwin's words and you might hear a tint of arrogance. Watch his demeanour, observe the way he carries himself, and you see a person very confident in his abilities but who understands his limitations.
"The whole objective today was to put myself in a position to win tomorrow,'' said Hadwin, who was greeted by loud cheers and applause as the galleries gathered to watch him on a hot, sunny day that was perfect for golf.
"It's been a very simple process this whole week. This golf course is so difficult once you get off line, you can't play from trees and rough. That was our focus going into today.''
Van Pelt showed Hadwin will have to fight for the title. He shot a blistering five-under 65 to finish 5 under after the third round of the US$5.2-million tournament.
Van Pelt had six birdies on the back. His score of 29 set a nine-hole scoring record at Shaughnessy. The old mark of 30 was set by Franklin Langham during the 2005 Canadian Open.
"I was hitting the ball really well on the front and not scoring,'' said the Tulsa, Okla., resident, whose lone win on the PGA Tour came in 2009. "I played really solid on the back nine and I didn't miss a fairway. I was just able to convert some putts.''
It won't exactly be like Canada facing the U.S. in hockey at the Olympics, but Van Pelt knows who the crowd will be cheering for tomorrow when he joins Hadwin in the final group.
"It won't be my first away game,'' he said.
"Everybody wants a Canadian to win tomorrow. Good for him to come and play as well as he has the first two days. I'm sure he's going to play well tomorrow.''
First-round leader Kris Blanks of Jupiter, Fla., shot a 69 and sits at 3 under with Andres Romero of Argentina.
Four golfers, including crowd favourite John Daly and Australia's Geoff Ogilvy, are at 2 under.
Chad Campbell and PGA Tour rookie Michael Thompson started the day tied for the lead. They both shot 4-over 74s to sit five back of the leader.
Only five Canadians have won the Canadian Open, the third oldest national championship in golf. The last was Pat Fletcher in 1954 when the tournament was held at Point Grey in Vancouver.
The last Canadian to make a serious challenge was Mike Weir of Bright's Grove, Ont., who lost in a playoff to Vijay Singh in 2004.
A win would give Hadwin a US$918,000 pay cheque, plus a two-year PGA Tour exemption.
Hadwin has some experience in big tournaments. The 23 year old was the top Canadian at last year's Canadian Open at St. George's Golf & Country Club in Toronto, finishing nine strokes off the pace.
He also shot a final-round 68 to finish tied for 39th at the this year's U.S. Open. Earlier this year he won on the Canadian Tour.
Hadwin started the day two shots behind the leader. Any jitters were quickly erased when he had birdies on three of the first four holes. He needed a good approach shot for a par on No. 7, then lipped out on a putt for a bogey on the par-3 No. 8. On the back nine, he added two more birdies.
A roar went up from the crowd when Hadwin walked down the 18th fairway. PGA Tour veteran Scott McCarron showed class, stepping back to allow Hadwin to go first.
"They weren't there to watch me today, they were there to watch Adam,'' said McCarron. "I kind of let him have his little moment.
"The kid is going to have a long career ahead of him. He's a good player.''
Four other Canadians remain in the field of 77.
David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., finished Friday at 2 under and was playing in the same group as Hadwin and McCarron. He shot 4 over and finished at plus-2.
Matt McQuillan of Kingston, Ont., shot a 74 and sits at 5 over; Dustin Risdon of Strathmore, Alta., shot a 76 and is at plus-10; while Brad Fritsch of Manotick, Ont., shot 80 and is plus-11.
One person not on the course watching Hadwin was his younger brother Kyle, who is battling complications from Crohn's disease. The 20-year-old has had five major surgeries over the last two years and has been in hospital since May. He was able to walk the course Friday.
"I think he's going to make it tomorrow and hopefully I can play a round like I did today for him,'' said Hadwin.
A lot of Canadian kids grow up dreaming about scoring the winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, or maybe catching the deciding touchdown in the Grey Cup.
Hadwin's dreams were of sinking a winning putt.
"No offence to the Canadian Open, but my putts were to win the U.S. Open or the Masters,'' he said with a grin.