Eric McCardle leads Windsor Championship by one over two players

PGA TOUR Canada tee marker

WINDSOR, Ont. — Through 36 holes at Ambassador Golf Club, Eric McCardle is positioned at the top of the leaderboard, opening with rounds of 64 and 65 to take a one-stroke lead into the weekend over Anthony Maccaglia and Jonathan Garrick.

The last man in the field at Mackenzie Tour Q-School this spring in Arizona, McCardle earned status due to closing rounds of 69 and 68 after playing nine PGA TOUR Latinoamérica in 2017, finishing with six made cuts and three top-25 finishes.

Though the start of his Mackenzie Tour journey was shaky, missing the first three cuts of the season, the 29-year-old rebounded at the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open, breaking par each day, to finish T34.

“Honestly, I was hitting it terribly going into the first few events, even my irons I was hitting bad, and on those two courses you have to hit it straight,” said McCardle. “Fortunately, in Lethbridge, I got to start hitting driver, which has been my best club for a while, and I got to take advantage of that.”

Driving back to Las Vegas, Nevada to enjoy the week-long break from the Mackenzie Tour schedule at home, McCardle flew into Windsor this past Monday with renewed confidence in his game and proved it on Thursday, making two eagles to fire an opening 64.

A day later, McCardle once again made two eagles on the same par-5s to play his opening 36 holes 13-under par.

“I just drove the ball well and have been all week, I’ve been finding lots of fairways and hitting my long irons pretty good,” said the 7th-year pro. “Both my eagles were just kick-ins today and conditions have been great.”

With his best career finish in a PGA TOUR sanctioned event T18 at both the BMW Jamaica Classic and Quito Open presented by Diners Club in 2017, McCardle says he’s excited to head into the weekend in contention.

“It’s what we’re all out here for, going into the weekend with a chance to win it,” said the Oak Harbour, Washington native. “I’m looking forward to it, the course is going to dry out and the greens are getting a little bit firmer, it’ll definitely make the course a little bit tougher.”

Heading into the weekend T4, low-Canadian Riley Wheeldon’s 131 total through two rounds is the lowest score of his Mackenzie Tour career as he is primed to compete for his first Canada Life Canadian Player of the Week honour of 2019 and his first Mackenzie Tour victory since The Syncrude Boreal in 2013.

Key Information

  • Eric McCardle joined Jake Knapp and Peyton White as the only players on the Mackenzie Tour to make four eagles in one tournament; doing so in only six par-5 attempts through 36 holes. McCardle made eagle on hole No. 3 and No. 13 on each day.
  • After qualifying for the event on Monday, Anthony Maccaglia has made back-to-back birdies on four occasions through 36-holes and trails by one stroke. The last Monday qualifier to go on to win a Mackenzie Tour event was Tom Hoge at the 2011 Players Cup.
  • After missing the first two cuts of the season, Jonathan Garrick has played just one round over par, firing his fourth round of 65 or better in his last 10 to head into the weekend one-stroke off the pace.
  • Matt Gilchrest made four-consecutive birdies after making the turn on Friday, following up an opening-round 63 with a 68 to enter the weekend two-strokes off the lead.
  • Coming off a T25 finish at the GolfBC Championship and a T3 finish at the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open, Jake Johnson has played nine of his last 10 Mackenzie Tour rounds in the 60s, opening with scores of 68 and 65 in Windsor.
  • Currently, in 13thposition on the Order of Merit, Dawson Armstrong matched the best score of his Mackenzie Tour career, opening his round 5-under par through his first four holes to eventually shoot 63.
  • Making his first-career Mackenzie Tour start, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member Ryan Ruffels carded a bogey-free 63 on Friday. Ruffels is currently fifth on the Latinoamérica Order of Merit thanks in part to a runner-up finish earlier this season at the Molino Cañuelas Championship.
  • With a scoring average of 67.25 this season, Paul Barjon currently leads the Mackenzie Tour and has yet to play a round over par. The Dumbea, New Caledonia native continued his strong play, following up his opening-round 65 with a 67.
  • After opening 1-over par, both Cole Miller and Chase Parker rebounded with second-round 64s to jump 78 spots up the leaderboard and inside the cut line.
  • 15 players are within three strokes of the lead.

Quotable 

“I’m just happy to be hereafter getting through the Monday (qualifier) and I have a good opportunity this week. I got off to a good start today making birdie on my first hole and then I hit it to two inches on the second, so I was off and running. I wasn’t as sharp as yesterday, but I managed it nicely and grinded out a couple pars and kept it together.” – Anthony Maccaglia

“Maybe there are more nerves after a round like yesterday. That was the highest I’ve ever been on a Mackenzie Tour leaderboard. I know what I have to do this week to stay the rest of the season, so maybe having a good target goal as opposed to last year just trying to make cuts, and when you just try to make cuts you hang around the cut line, and here I know I have to play well to keep my season alive.” –Anthony Maccaglia 

“I scrambled after I got through the playoff. I had good incentive to get through because if I didn’t get through I would’ve had to drive to Cincinnati and I wouldn’t have got in until about 2 A.M… I stayed in a Comfort Inn Monday night and then a player reached out and had an extra spot in an AirBNB.” – Anthony Maccaglia 

“It’s been pretty solid; I’ve hit a lot of greens and I’ve been chipping really well, it just felt pretty simple and in control. I had a good off week last week and rested a lot and I feel really mentally fresh.” – Jonathan Garrick 

“I’d like to think this is what my game is, and those earlier missed cuts were flukes. I felt like I handled the first two weeks well and have just kept working on the same stuff and it feels better, but it’s a lot more fun to do this than miss cuts.” – Jonathan Garrick

“To me, I felt like I won that tournament in the sense that I executed very well and shot 7-under in the final round and, being near the lead, that was the best I’ve done in that position and I just got beat. It wasn’t ideal to lose, but I took a lot of confidence from that whole week.” – Jonathan Garrick On his runner-up finish at the GolfBC Championship 

“I made a really good putt on No. 1 after a bad drive in the bunker. I tapped in for birdie on No. 2, made an 8-footer for eagle on No. 3 and had a good look on No. 4 from eight feet and made that as well. Once you make birdie from a bunker you feel like you can make birdie from anywhere, that’s what I was most happy about after four holes, I put myself in good position to make birdie and converted well. It felt good to be 5-under after four.” – Dawson Armstrong

“Holes No. 5 and 6 you have to just try to make par, but Nos. 7-13 you can really just play solid golf and be four or five under on those holes as well. My goal after the start was to get to about 9-under and I really got close to it.” – Dawson Armstrong

“It’s going to take me zoning in on the nerves that will definitely be there, accepting that, and learning how to take it little by little. Whenever I tend to play in tight and stressful situations the driver is the first thing to go, but I feel confident with the driver this week and I just have to hit it solid off the face and I’ll be fine. I’m going to try to put myself in good positions the next two days and try to be in contention.”– Dawson Armstrong 

“I played rock solid for 10 holes and then missed a shorty on No. 11 and that kind of rattled me a little bit, so I was a bit shaky coming in, but fought hard, had some good saves and then made birdie on the last to make the day feel even better.” – Riley Wheeldon

“I’ve shot 64 once or twice but always the later rounds. I’ve always been a notoriously slow starter, so it was nice to see some positives early and get right in the mix early because I feel comfortable when I’m in the mix.” – Riley Wheeldon

“I think when you’re in contention you’re playing better so you’re confident and you don’t think about the negatives. You see your name on the board, things are going good with the game and that’s just a matter of executing, so it’s a position we all like to be in.” – Riley Wheeldon

“It was pretty brutal to be honest; I’m just managing things. I hit it in the fescue my first two holes of the day and saved a couple pars and just managed it. I’m not hitting the driver well or the 3-wood, I’m just trying to figure out what I’ve got and using that the best I can. At the moment, I’m using it pretty well.” – Ryan Ruffels

“I’m hitting my irons good, so if I can get it in the fairway, I’m pretty efficient with them at the moment and on the back nine I worked it out a bit and hit all the fairways and posted 6-under. If I can keep hitting it in the fairway, I think I’ll be in a pretty good spot.” – Ryan Ruffels

“I live in Florida, so it’s very similar to that and Australia. I much prefer this over the cold, especially on a linksy style course. When it gets hot, I’m used to running balls up slopes and playing for firm greens.” – Ryan Ruffels

“I really struggled with ball striking today, it was pretty awful, but the putter came through all day long. I hit a lot of good putts and made good par saves to keep me in it, I didn’t hit it well, but I salvaged a 68 and hopefully I can figure out the ball striking and keep up the putting.” Grady Brame Jr. 

“The heat is one thing but I grew up with in Louisiana, so this is a typical summer day for me. The greens are drying out and with some of the pin locations they have, it can get tough and they can tuck those pins and get them in spots where it’s hard to get close to.” – Grady Brame Jr. 

“The par-3s on the back nine are brutal. Today the tees were back and pin locations were tough and there’s just a couple of tight tee shots, but other than that it’s pretty gettable and if you make par on the par-3s you’re gaining strokes on the field.” – Grady Brame Jr.

Second-Round Weather: Sunny and humid. High of 33. Wind 12 KM/h.