Desert Hot Springs, CA., – Known as one of the windiest places on earth, the Coachella Valley, home to Desert Dunes Golf Club certainly didn’t show her teeth on a considerably docile day on Thursday. Stuart Anderson took advantage of the scorable conditions continuing his fine play on the Canadian Tour shooting an 8-under-par 64 to take the opening round lead at the 2011 Desert Dunes Classic.
Anderson, a four-time Canadian Tour winner, is looking to clinch his second consecutive win of the year and keep the momentum going into second stage of PGA TOUR Q-School.
“My game is clicking right now and I’m really in a good state both professionally and personally,” admitted Anderson. “In order to win this week I’m going to need to keep playing solid and keep the momentum going from first stage and the Canadian Tour Championship,” added Anderson, who finished T3 at first stage of PGA TOUR Q-School easily advancing to second stage.
Anderson’s bogey free round was his fifth consecutive round in the 60’s dating back to his win at the Canadian Tour Championship. Anderson is quick to point out that while his solid play to date is great, his year would be considered a disappointment if he was unsuccessful in his bid to advance to the final stage of PGA TOUR Q-School.
“The next couple of weeks will be the year for me,” confessed Anderson who will be heading to Murrieta, CA for second stage of the grueling Q-School test. “As well as I’ve played this year if things don’t go well at Q-School I’m going to consider this a disappointing year,” confessed Anderson.
Trailing Anderson by three shots is Dan Buchner of Seal Beach, CA, Matt Daniel of Vancouver, BC, Chris Killmer of Bellingham, WA and Andy Matthews of Ada, MI. Coincidently Buchner, Killmer and Matthews are all coming off solid Q-School showings after the first stage.
Both Killmer and Buchner played first stage in Beaumont, CA and finished T2 and T5 respectively. Matthews on the other hand finished T15 in Valdosta, CA.
Killmer and Matthews matched Anderson with bogey free opening rounds carding five birdies each. Daniel, who currently sits in the 91st spot on the Order of Merit, had one bogey and six birdies while Buchner had seven birdies to go along with two bogeys.
Eastern Ontario golfers fared well on the opening day. Brad Fritsch of Manotick, Ontario shot 2-under-par 70 while Brad Revell of Kingston, Ontario was even on the day.
Other notable scores included a 1-under-par 71 for local boy Byron Smith. Smith playing alongside defending champion Adam Hadwin, who shot 72, is looking for a little redemption this week after failing to advance through first stage of PGA TOUR Q-School last week. Champions Tour member and Canadian Tour legend Jim Rutledge opened up with an even par round of 72 matching sponsor exemptions four time PGA TOUR winner Notah Begay III and former PGA TOUR member Tom Demsey.
Being as it is the final Canadian Tour event of the season a number of players are playing to maintain their cards for the 2012 season. Ryan Thornberry who sits in 80th spot which is the cutoff line for exempt status fired an opening round 72 which puts him in a tie for 46th spot. Michael McCabe meanwhile who sits in the 90th position which is the cutoff for non-exempt status opened up the tournament with a solid round of 69 and sits in a tie for 11th spot.
12 Sponsor exemptions were handed out to a number of sports celebrities as well as Alfonso Riberio of Fresh Prince of Bel-air fame. Leading the contingent of celebrities is former Major League Baseball pitcher member Rick Rhoden who opened up with a 4-over-par 76. Garry Templeton, a former major league short stop with the St. Louis Cardinals among others, shot 77 joining Rhoden as the only celebrities to break the seemingly elusive 80 barrier.
This is the second annual Desert Dunes Classic which is being played at Desert Dunes Golf Club in Desert Hot Springs, CA. The Desert Dunes Classic is scheduled between the first and second stage of PGA TOUR Qualifying School to help keep players sharp for the final stages of one of the toughest tests in golf.
Desert Dunes was acquired by a Canadian ownership group in late 2009. The Desert Dunes Classic is part of the group’s comprehensive, long-term improvement plan for the facility