(Ancaster, Ontario) – Soft conditions left the Hamilton Golf & Country Club more than vulnerable for round one of the RBC Canadian Open and but the old girl still proved a mercurial foe for many, especially among the contingent from the home country.
While Scott Piercy was able to blitz the course at a record pace of 62, many of the Canadians did not fare as well as the Las Vegas lad who recorded nines of 32 and 30.
Leading the way for the Canadians was Adam Hadwin, but his four under par, 66, was marred by imperfections. After starting with two birdies and building his score to four under par through 10, Hadwin stumbled on one of the toughest holes on the course, #11. The 481-yard dogleg par four bit him for a double bogey.
“…I just kind of maybe tried to get a little cute with it a couple times instead of doing what I did on 17 and getting it on the green and taking my bogey,” he explained afterwards.
It hardly proved fatal to his round and he ran off two successive birdies in response, playing holes 14 through 18 in even par. His 66 has him in good position to win a third consecutive Rivermead Trophy as low Canadian.
Just two back of Hadwin in the Canuck contest were David Hearn and Brad Fritsch. Fritsch, in his return to Hamilton after having missed the cut here in 2006, was even par through 15 holes but sprinkled in a couple birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to make his day a much better one. The only marks on his card for the day came in the form of bogies on two par three holes, #6 and #13 – both brutes playing more than 220 yards a piece.
Fritsch was also the best of the Eastern Ontario pros. Matt McQuillan of Kingston came in at even par. The non-exempt PGA Tour member had his day to two under par but stumbled home in the heavy rain with bogies on two of his final three holes. He looked clearly upset by the pace of his playing partner on the day, Canadian Amateur Champion MacKenzie Hughes, who was a little more than deliberate in his play, appearing to irk both McQuillan and their third, Roberto Castro.
Canadian Mid-Amateur Champion Rob Couture, who grew up in Trenton, Ontario fared well. He was two under par early but settled for a 73 on the day. Playing alongside good friend Jon Mills he looked quite comfortable on the big stage while Mills had his struggles. That included a wildly errant tee shot on the fourth hole that resulted in a triple bogey and a double bogey just two holes later on his way to a 77.
In total ten Canadians shot par or better on Thursday, a good start that had plenty of the spectators cheering with pride all day long.
Unfortunately a bunch of the native sons came out on the wrong end of the leaderboard. Mills, Brian McCann, Andrew Parr, Eugene Wong, Ben Ferguson and Nick Taylor all shot 75 or higher, putting them in the bottom eleven players in the field.
Fortunately for them the golf course only got softer as the day went by meaning 62 is not only available, but it may be bettered Friday with Hamilton Golf & Country laying virtually defenseless.
At least for those in control of their golf ball.
Leader – Scott Piercy (62)
Adam Hadwin – 66 (t-12), Abbotsford, British Columbia
David Hearn – 68 (t-24), Brantford, Ontario
Brad Fritsch – 68 (t-24), Manotick, Ontario
David Markle – 69 (t-39), Shelburne, Ontario
Graham DeLaet – 69 (t-39), Weyburn, Saskatchewan
Albin Choi (a) – 69 (t-39), Toronto, Ontario
Stephen Ames – 70 (t-66), Calgary, Alberta
Matt Hill – 70 (t-66), Bright’s Grove, Ontario
Matt McQuillan – 70 (t-66), Kingston, Ontario
Cory Renfrew – 70 (t-66), Victoria, British Columbia
MacKenzie Hughes (a) – 71 (t-95), Dundas, Ontario
Mike Weir – 72 (t-112), Bright’s Grove, Ontario
Michael Gligic – 72 (t-112), Burlington, Ontario
Rob Couture – 73 (t-128), Trenton, Ontario
Chris Ross – 74 (t-137), Dundas, Ontario
Greg Doherty – 74 (t-137), Mississauga, Ontario
Victor Ciesielski – 74 (t-137), Cambridge, Ontario
Brian McCann – 75 (t-144), Mississauga, Ontario
Andrew Parr – 75 (t-144), London, Ontario
Nick Taylor – 75 (t-144), Abbotsford, Ontario
Eugene Wong – 76 (t-152), North Vancouver, British Columbia
Jon Mills – 77 (154th), Belleville, Ontario
Ben Ferguson – 78 (155th), Ancaster, Ontario