As a pro golfer with his last name, Jhared Hack has heard all the usual jokes. But the twenty-seven year old Florida native proved once again on Thursday that his name does not describe his golfing ability.
Hack, who counts three top-ten finishes amongst his starts this year on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, took the first round lead at the National Capital Open To Support Our Troops after an opening 64 (-7).
In his first of four scheduled laps of the Hylands Golf Club, the Central Florida graduate had just one blemish on his card against eight impressive birdies. The course was playing soft due to recent rains, warm temperatures and low winds, and the 9th year pro took full advantage of it.
A new method of putting obviously helped.
“I switched to cross-hand for today. The putter’s been a little balky this whole season, so I just tried to find something to kind of believe in and feel like it’s consistent,” said Hack. “I made some nice putts today that I definitely haven’t been making, and they went in with some conviction, so it’s nice to see that.”
It’s a nice turnaround for the Lake Mary, Florida resident who missed the cut last week in Calgary after uncharacteristic rounds of 78-82.
“I just stayed patient, man. I know I’ve said that a lot this year, but I kind of had a rough weekend last week and just wanted to learn from that. I made a lot of sloppy mistakes and decisions, and I wanted to be as stress-free as I could today. Obviously when you shoot 64, you’re not trying to – it just kind of happens.”
Sitting just one stroke off the lead are a trio of players. They include Canada’s Jared duToit along with Americans Kramer Hickok and Mark Blakefield.
In total more than 40 players shot -3 or better in round one.
Eastern Ontario Players
Leading the way among players from Eastern Ontario is a 19 year-old amateur. Noah Steele of Kingston sits tied for 14th in his first start in a pro event. He won a spot in the Monday qualifier in a playoff to make the field. It came on the heels of a win at the Whig Standard Championship last Saturday.
Steele, who will head south to start his sophomore year at Sam Houston State on Monday, reached five under par through fifteen holes but gave up a bogie on the 16th. His day was highlighted by back to back chip ins on the 6th and 7th holes, one for eagle and the other for par.
No far back of Steele is another amateur, Josh Whalen of Napanee. A recent graduate of Kent State University and coming off a third place finish at the Canadian Men’s Amateur, Whalen turned in a tidy 68 (-3) and sits in a share of 27th.
Bath, Ontario’s Austin James shot 72 in his pro debut while teen amateur Jared Coyle of the Carleton Golf & Yacht Club turned in a 73.
Other regional players: Mark Swansburg 74, Marc-Andre Piette 75, Michel Dagenais 76, Colin Pitchers 79, Kevin Robson 80.