Brendan Steele topped the Canadian Open leaderboard Thursday at 7-under-par 65 afer birdieing five of the first seven holes on his back nine at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario.
“I love being up here,” Steele said. “I played in ’06 and ’07 on PGA Tour Canada now. (That) really got me ready to play the Nationwide Tour, which I played in ’08, ’09 and ’10. It was a great progression in my life. I had a great time up here. Made a lot of friends and spent two summers traveling the country.”
The 30-year-old American had eight birdies and a bogey, dropping a shot on his final hole — the par-4 ninth. He won the 2011 Texas Open for his lone PGA Tour title.
“Really, just an overall good day,” Steele said. “Hit a lot of good shots and was able to hole some putts.”
Matt Kuchar, a two-time winner this year, was a stroke back with Scott Gardiner and Scott Brown. Kuchar made eagle 3 at the par-5 18th hole, his ninth hole of the day.
“It was fun to be out here. It was perfect conditions,” Kuchar said. “I feel like last week, conditions were so challenging and so difficult at the British Open, to come here and to play golf that is more friendly and more what we’re used to the PGA Tour was great.”
Hunter Mahan and David Lingmerth shot 67. The group at 68 included former Masters champions Bubba Watson and Trevor Immelman, along with Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley.
Brad Fritsch was the low Canadian at 69. Pat Fletcher was the last Canadian winner, taking the 1954 event in Vancouver, B.C.
SAUERS LEADS SENIORS
Gene Sauers mastered a stiff breeze to shoot a 3-under 67 and take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Senior British Open at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England.
Four players are at 68, among them 2010 British Senior Champion Bernhard Langer.
Sauers, a 50-year-old American, is 23rd on the Champions Tour money list.
Defending champion Fred Couples shot a 74.
England’s Simon Dyson shot a 5-under 67 to share the first-round lead of the Russian Open in Moscow. … Casie Cathrea defeated 2012 champion Minjee Lee with a par on the 19th hole to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Sycamore Hills in For Wayne, Ind. … England’s Sam Horsfield routed a pair of opponents – 8 and 7 and 6 and 5 – to advance to the quarterfinals in the rain-delayed U.S. Junior Amateur at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif.