It’s a hot, dry start at Glen Abbey

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL

OAKVILLE — Dustin John­son and Luke List may be co-lead­ers, but it’s the weather that’s dom­i­nat­ing play at the RBC Cana­dian Open.

John­son made an ea­gle putt on the par-5 18th hole at Glen Abbey Golf Club to tie club­house leader List at 6-un­der 66 on Thurs­day to loud ap­plause. John­son seemed out of con­tention for the first-round lead after a dou­ble bo­gey on 14, but then re­cov­ered with a birdie on 16 to set up the cli­mac­tic shot. Most play­ers strug­gled with the fast greens and fair­ways, mak­ing it tricky to play off the browned rough and not roll through the harder grass as a drought con­tin­ues to dry out south­ern On­tario. High winds had flags rip­ping wildly and played havoc with high shots, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to play an ac­cu­rate long game.

“It’s firm and fast,” said world No. 2 John­son mo­ments after step­ping off the course.

“It’s def­i­nitely tough to get the ball close to the hole. You’ve re­ally got to land the ball on your num­bers.

“With it be­ing as windy as it was to­day, it was tough to do that.”

List had a birdie on No. 10, his first hole of the round, then fol­lowed it up with a birdie on Nos. 13, 15, 16 and 18 to take an early lead. He stayed steady through the front nine to fin­ish ahead on a hot, sunny day. He pointed to his early start time — 7:20 a.m. — as help­ing with his quick start.

“I was very for­tu­nate that the first five holes there wasn’t much wind at all and then it kind of picked up,” said List, who missed the worst of the un­for­giv­ing weather.

Strong winds es­pe­cially af­fected play on the back nine of Glen Abbey, which are mainly in a val­ley. High shots would get grabbed by the wind when the ball lofted above the val­ley’s walls, cre­at­ing strange shots.

The sev­enth hole also frus­trated sev­eral play­ers, with a wa­ter haz­ard and sev­eral bunkers sur­round­ing the green, forc­ing golfers to loft the ball above a tree line and then get vic­tim­ized by the wind.

“If you miss the fair­way, you’re pretty much done, there’s no chance of keep­ing it on the green,” said world No. 1 Ja­son Day, the reign­ing Cana­dian Open cham­pion. “My men­tal­ity is just try­ing to get it up there as far as I can. As long I can just keep driv­ing it straight, try to get up there some­where around the green, if I miss it then I’ve got a wedge in my hand and hope­fully I can hit it high and get it stuck on the green.”

Am­a­teur Jared du Toit of Kim­ber­ley, B.C., ea­gled the par-4 17th hole at Glen Abbey Golf Club, then birdied 18 to en­ter the club­house in a tie for third at 5-un­der 67. Amer­i­cans Ches­son Hadley and Kelly Kraft were also at 5-un­der. Day was 3-un­der 69. Du Toit, who at­tends Ari­zona State, com­pared play­ing at Glen Abbey on Thurs­day to play­ing in the desert.

Am­a­teur Gar­ret Rank (69) of Elmira, a hockey ref­eree, was the sec­ond low­est Cana­dian be­hind du Toit. Rank made an ea­gle putt from the rough edge of the green on 18 to fin­ish at 3 un­der.

Adam Had­win of Ab­bots­ford, B.C., shot a 72 to fin­ish the first round at par, while David Hearn of Brant­ford was 2-over 74. Gra­ham DeLaet of Wey­burn, Sask., am­a­teur Blair Hamil­ton of Burling­ton and Ot­tawa’s Brad Fritsch all tied at 5over 77.

Mike Weir was at 6 over 78.

FRANK GUNN, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Amer­i­can Luke List watches his tee shot on the 7th hole at the Cana­dian Open on Thurs­day. He was a co-leader with Dustin John­son after the first round.

NATHAN DENETTE, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Amer­i­can Dustin John­son blasts out of the bunker on the ninth hole at the 2016 Cana­dian Open in Oakville on Thurs­day. He shot a 6-un­der 66.

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