The players were bringing the heavy ammunition Friday on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada. It’s a good thing they are used to that sort of thing at Ottawa’s Hylands Golf Club, the host site of the National Capital Open To Support Our Troops.
By the end of round two, three players topped the field on the Canadian military base, each posting scores of -11 through thirty-six holes.
The trio included Canada’s Raoul Menard, along with Americans Kramer Hickock and Mark Blakefied.
Granby, Quebec’s Raoul Menard was the last of the group to reach the clubhouse. He made birdies on his last two holes of the day to join the lead pack. They are two shots clear of the next grouping of players, a foursome all at -9.
Menard looks pretty sharp in a setting not far from his home province.
“I’m new to the Tour. There’s a lot of guys that have already been here, and it’s new to me. Not only the courses, but getting used to the feeling of the Tour and being comfortable playing here,” he revealed. “I’m getting more and more comfortable, and I want to compete. I know if I’m playing well, I can play with anyone.”
Currently in third place on the TOUR’s Order of Merit, Hickock is looking to cement his position inside The Five, and earn Web.com TOUR status for 2018. He is also chasing his second win of the season having been the victor at the Players Cup in Manitoba.
“You learn from the experience. I’ve learned from winning in Winnipeg, birdieing the last two holes, but I’ve also learned from shooting 2-over in Thunder Bay to lose by one. Unfortunately in this game, you learn more when you lose, and in this game you’re going to lose a lot more than you win. I really just think being in that position and having a chance to win and having that experience has played a big part,” said Hickok.
The veteran of the group is Blakefield who, at 35, has a lot of pro starts under his belt.
“I’ve been all over. I’ve had Web.com Tour status the last few years, and I’ve been bouncing around doing a lot of Monday Qualifiers, and it’s nice to be up here and to make my schedule and be able to go week-to-week,” said Blakefield.
Two regional players made the 36 hole cut at Hylands.
19 year-old amateur Noah Steele of Kingston, the two-time defending Flagstick Open Champion, is sitting nicely with a share of 15th place. The sophomore from Sam Houston State has turned in rounds of 67 and 68 this week and is -7.
He joined TSN1200 on Friday afternoon for an in-depth interview. You can listen to that at this link.
Also slipping into the weekend with scores of 72-67 was Austin James of Bath, Ontario. The former Canadian Junior Boys’ Champion is playing his first event as a professional and guaranteed himself a cheque with a bogey-free performance on Friday. He shares 53rd place.
The 36-hole cut came at 3-under 139, with 67 professionals and one amateur at T53 or better.