Brian Carlson’s bogey-free 63 sets the pace at the Canada Life Open

The Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada Staal Foundation Open
The Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada is getting underway for the players to start the path to the PGA TOUR

Vancouver, British Columbia – The opening day of the B.C. Golf Swing couldn’t have gone much better for Brian Carlson, who hit all 18 greens in regulation and made nine birdies on his way to a first-round 63 at Point Grey Golf & Country Club to kick off the Canada Life Open.

Teeing off early in the day, the 23-year old started smoothly, making par on his opening three holes before the flood gates opened at the mid-way point of his opening nine.

“I got it going on about hole No. 15, I made a nice birdie and then I made birdie on No. 17 and 18 to get things going,” said the 2018 Purdue University graduate, who took advantage of the adjusted back-nine start. “Teeing off on hole No. 11 really helps because you have Nos. 18, 1 and 3, and they’re all par fives, so you can get it going in the middle of the round.”

And “getting it going” is exactly what he did. Making six birdies in his next seven holes, Carlson sent the gracious Canada Life Open volunteers working the leaderboards into a frenzy as his name catapulted to the top, one birdie at a time.

“It was stress-free, I hit every green in regulation, so I just made the putts today and everything was clicking,” said the 2012 and 2013 New England Junior Champion. “It’s not an easy golf course; I was in the zone, I guess, and took it one hole at a time.”

Two more birdies on his way into the house and Carlson gladly signed for an opening-round 63, two-strokes clear of closest-chasers Tyler Weworski and Jake Knapp at 7-under.

Carlson’s stellar round comes as little surprise to those who followed his senior season with Purdue. In 2017-18, the Madison, Connecticut native won two individual titles and is the only player in school history with three-career scores of 207 or lower (collegiate events are three-rounds long). He credits much of his success to head coach Rob Bradley.

“We have a fantastic golf coach,” said Carlson, who graduated with a degree in Economics. “Coach Bradley is up there with the best of the best when it comes to coaching. He helped me get prepared for college golf and we played a lot of good golf courses similar to (Point Grey), so it was good preparation.”

As shown by his blemish-free card on Thursday, one of his best traits as a player is the ability to avoid big numbers. In his senior spring with Purdue, Carlson made only one double bogey and one triple bogey in 306 holes of competition. His stellar season led to unanimous First-Team All-Big Ten honours.

“Being able to compete and going from tier to tier, becoming a bigger fish in the ocean, I just really love competing, so whenever I have the opportunity to do that, it’s a plus,” Carlson said after his round.

Though Carlson is alone at the top, a host of players hope to put a dent in the armor on Friday, with 15 players currently sitting at 4-under par.

Looking to pick up the first Canada Life Canadian Player of the Week Award of 2019, Taylor Pendrith and James Allenby are the top Canadians, among those jammed at 4-under par after Thursday.

Key Information

  • The winner of the Canada Life Open will receive an exemption into the RBC Canadian Open, taking place June 3-9 at Hamilton Golf Club.
  • Finishing T33 at the Puerto Plato Open on the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica earlier this May, Tyler Weworski is yet to make a bogey on the Mackenzie Tour in 2019, firing a bogey-free 65 to head into Friday two-strokes behind leader Carlson.
  • A medalist at Mackenzie Tour Q-School at Wigwam Resort in April, UCLA Bruins alum Jake Knapp started his day 4-under through his first four holes on his way to a 7-under 65. Thursday was the second time that the 24-year old has shot 7-under at Point Grey, accomplishing the feat in the third round in 2017 when he placed T4 in his Mackenzie Tour debut.
  • A respectable 2-under heading into the penultimate hole on Thursday, Wesley McClain made birdie on 17 and then, from greenside, chipped in on his final hole of the day for eagle to sign for a 5-under 67. He heads into Friday T4.
  • Case Cochran, whose father Russ has made over 800 combined starts on the PGA TOUR and the PGA TOUR Champions, had a stellar season on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica in 2016, claiming a runner-up finish and eventually placing 24th on the Order of Merit. Continuing his strong play from San Antonio Q-School, Cochran finished his day with back-to-back birdies to sign for an opening-round 67.
  • Matt Marshall, who finished in 53rd place on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit in 2018, played 18 bogey-free holes on Thursday, signing for a 68. Marshall’s best finish in 2018 was a T4 at the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open.

Quotable 

“It was nice, just hit fairway and greens, exactly what you dream of. It was a lot of simple holes for me today, I hit a lot of drivers and that made the course very short and I rolled in a couple long ones which always keeps the round going, and to be bogey free is also very exciting.” – Tyler Weworski 

“The greens are great, rough is lush, it’s a great track. With the greens so nice, you can roll putts in from anywhere, but you can short-side yourself, so you have to be smart, you can’t just aim at flags and be gung-ho. If you play smart and put the ball in the right spots, you can make some putts for sure.” – Tyler Weworski

“The BC swing is heaven. I’ve been bragging about it to everyone, getting out to this side of the country, it’s heaven.” – Tyler Weworski

“I got off to a hot start, making par on No. 1 and then coming up with a birdie on No. 2 and eagle on No. 3. After that, I drove it in front of the green and had an easy birdie on No. 4 and then cruised for a while and finished with three really-good birdies in a row from No. 16 to 18.” – Jake Knapp

“I don’t know if it gets the nerves out early or helps you settle in a bit more, but getting out to a start like that rather than putting yourself behind the eight ball is great. I think getting off to a hot start is important and those first few holes are gettable, so I was happy to be able to take advantage of it.” – Jake Knapp

“With the dog-legs and tight fairways, and not being able to hit a ton of drivers it fits my eye, but the course is framed really well and it tells you what kind of shots you need to hit, so as long as you’re hitting it well it sets it up for you.” – Jake Knapp

“I’ve played recently in a few Golden State events, just to make sure I’m staying tournament ready. I just kept grinding and working on the things I did well at Q-School in Arizona and try to build on that for the first few weeks.” – Jake Knapp 

“I started off very slow and missed a few putts from six to eight feet, two or three of them, but I stayed patient out there and gave myself a few good looks starting on No. 11 and on No. 12 gave myself a good look for eagle and made an easy birdie there. I hit it about the same on the front and the back, but I just made more putts.” – Dawson Armstrong

“I tried to focus on staying loose and letting the game come to me rather than trying to force technicalities and trying to save shots by having good swings. Instead, I have to step back and get the ball in the hole as fast as possible, that’s something I haven’t done too well this year, but the past two weeks I’ve been really good at it. Getting back into tournament mode, I’ve just been trying to score well.” – Dawson Armstrong

“Last year I didn’t know how to be a professional, this year it’s gotten a lot better, knowing I went down to Latinoamerica where nothing is given to you and you have to learn it on your own. Last year up here I learned the ropes really well, so having the experience up here is going to help me as well.” – Dawson Armstrong

“I really scraped it around and made everything I looked at today. I missed a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, but I chipped and putted well, and I made the birdies when I had my chances.” – Dalton Ward 

“The course is playing pretty much the same as last year. I didn’t play too well last year, I missed the cut by a couple strokes, but I have a different approach this year, I’m not letting anything bother me that I can’t control, just going one shot at a time and trying to get it in the hole as soon as possible.”– Dalton Ward

Golf Course Fast Fact

Point Grey Golf & Country Club is well known for hosting the 1954 Canadian Open, won by Pat Fletcher. That was the last time that a Canadian won the event.

First-Round Weather: Sunny. High of 18. Wind 10 KM/h.