(Windsor, ON) – Hometown hero David Byrne delivered just what fans were looking for at Roseland Golf & Curling Club Thursday, firing a five-under 65 to tie for the first round lead at the Jamieson WFCU Windsor Roseland Charity Classic.
Byrne, playing a course where he logged hundreds of rounds as a junior, made seven birdies to tie James Allenby, Joe Panzeri and Garrett Frank for top spot after 18 holes in Windsor. A native of nearby Essex, Byrne says this event is extra special and wants to take advantage.
“This is like my mini-major,” said Byrne. “I expected a lot coming into this week, and I still do. I just feel comfortable out here.”
The former Big Break winner got off to a hot start with four straight birdies on the front nine, then survived the breezy conditions later in the day to post 65. Despite the hot start, however, Byrne says this is just part of the plan for this week.
“I’m happy with it, but at the same time, I grew up here. This is what I expected to come out and do,” said the 24-year old graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy.
Byrne’s local knowledge was enhanced by the presence of his caddie and uncle Matt St. Louis, a frequent player at the Donald Ross layout.
“He knows the course better than me, and of people living, no one knows it better than him,” said Byrne.
Tied with Byrne was former Canadian Tour Comeback Player of the Year James Allenby, who made five birdies and an eagle in his own round of 65. The 25-year old from Langley, BC is looking to get back on track after being disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard at the Players Cup in Winnipeg last month.
“It feels like forever since I last played in an event,” said Allenby, who finished tied for third at the Dakota Dunes Casino Open in July . “It’s definitely nice to get in a low round right off the bat and I’m pumped.”
Allenby has made every cut this year and earned nearly $12,000 after a sub-par season in 2011. The former Oregon State Beaver says he’s improved thanks in part to a new belly putter and is feeling better on the course.
“This year just feels like I’m playing the way I know I can.”
Garrett Frank carded a bogey free 5-under 65 in the afternoon draw at Roseland, which faced tougher winds and scoring conditions. Frank began his round with five straight one putts including a 60-footer on the first hole.
“I scrambled a bit today but I was happy to come out with a 65,” said Frank, a native of Youngstown, OH. “My putter really came through for me and overall my short game was the difference.”
Panzeri was the last to join the group at 5-under carding six birdies and one bogey. The 2011 Dakota Dunes Casino Open winner recently made a switch to the belly putter which has helped to produce some good rounds.
“I felt like I was hitting the ball too good and not really getting what I wanted out of rounds,” admitted Panzeri. “I was happy how I was able to control the ball with the windy conditions this afternoon,” added Panzeri.
A shot back of the leaders were Williamsburg, VA’s Patrick Scheil, who made five birdies and a bogey for a four-under 66.
Grimshaw, AB’s Steven Lecuyer, Temple City CA’s Eugene Choe and Mountain View CA’s Dodge Kemmer are all three shots off the pace after posting 3-under par 67s.
Canadian tour Order of Merit leader Matt Hill shot an even-par 70 to sit tied for 28th, while 70-year old Canadian Tour legend Bob Panasik showed he’s not here for show, shooting a 73 to sit within two shots of the cutline.
This is the first time the Jamieson WFCU Windsor Roseland Charity Classic has been played since 1991. The newly revived event was once a mainstay on the Canadian Tour schedule. This year’s event is the only official pro-am format on the Tour, with pros playing with an amateur partner one of the first two rounds as part of a full 72-hole event.
The second round will resume at 7:15 AM Friday with players going off both tees. Check Cantour.com and following along on Twitter @CANTOUR for updates.
For the first round leaderboard click here