The inevitable ended play early during the opening round of the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada National Capital Open to Support Our Troops.
Threatening clouds and gusty winds nearing 50km/h and steady at 30km/h marked day one of play at the Hylands Golf Club in Ottawa and while the intense rain it brought did halt play at 6:51 p.m. on Thursday, there was plenty of action to keep the spectators happy..and a few players as well.
Americans Ross Beal, Matt Harmon and Zack Byrd share the clubhouse lead after posting opening round 65’s (-6) while Mookie DeMoss is on that mark still with one hole left to play.
While Beal and Harmon got in unscathed by the conditions, Byrd was chased into the clubhouse by them.
“We stood on the ninth tee (his 18th of the day) and saw it coming and all just quick-hit it off the tee box,” Byrd said. “My bag was just behind the eighth green with my rain gear, my umbrella, and everything so I hit and took off running and it started dumping after that.”
It didn’t seem to affect the North Carolina golfer. Thanks to a good read from a local caddy he canned a 25 foot birdie to close the day.
“Luckily, I’ve got a caddie who really knows the golf course,” Byrd said. “It was so dark that it was almost impossible to read putts and he said ‘trust me’ and he was spot on with the read.”
30 year-old Matt Harmon did what seemed near impossible for all 156 players in the field at Hylands – play bogey free on the way to his 65.
Many players gained momentum early in the day only to be scarred by a hole or two on the tree-lined Rockliffe (North) Course at Hylands that does not forgive shots hit heavily off-line.
“It was very tough, very windy. You can’t miss fairways or greens out here, the wind definitely made it harder,” commented Order of Merit leader J.J. Spaun, who signed for a round one 67.
That was the same mark for the leading Canadian who has completed round one, Matt Hill, who has a well-known local as his caddy this week, Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators.
Hill, the leading money winner on this tour in 2012, seemed pleased with how his looper made out.
“It was good, he did a great job out there. We just kind of had some fun and some laughs. It was a good time,” said Hill. The two played together during the tournament’s Pro-Am.
Lee Curry of Rideau View Golf Club was the best of the local players in the field. The former Web.com Tour member struggled early but recovered on his back nine and is even par through 15 holes.
The first round of play will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. That will delay the start of round two by about 15 minutes.