PGA TOUR Canada – Dru Love shoots course-record 60, leads HFX Pro-Am by two

The Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada Staal Foundation Open
The Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada

Halifax, N.S. — Dru Love played the best golf of his professional career Thursday afternoon, besting the Oakfield Golf and Country Club course record by two strokes, making eight birdies and two eagles en route to an opening-round 60 at the inaugural HFX Pro-Am.

Hot out of the gate, the University of Alabama alum made birdie on the first hole of the day and proceeded to play the par-5s in a combined 5-under par.

Adding seven more birdies throughout the day, the 12-under 60 matched the second-lowest round on the Mackenzie Tour this season.

“I got off to a good start, making a birdie, and hit both my approach shots on the par-5s inside 15 feet, two-putting the first one, and then I managed to make the second one and got going,” said Love. “It was a great day.”

Fresh out of the shrink wrap, Love debuted a new putter, which he says “got hot” at just the right time.

“I’ve been telling my teacher and my dad that if I get the putter going, everything is going to take care of itself,” said the 25-year old. “I’m beyond ecstatic with how it’s going with the putter, I’ve been struggling all year, so it was fun to see it get in the hole today.”

Turning to the back nine, Love played hole Nos. 10-13 in 5-under, putting himself at 10-under with five holes to play. Making birdie on No. 16, Love had a chance to match Greyson Sigg’s feat from the GolfBC Championship, finishing with three consecutive birdies to shoot 59.

“We had to wait for about 25 minutes on No. 17 tee and I think I started thinking about it too much,” said Love. “I knew if I made birdie there, I would have a putt on 18 to shoot 59, but I’m not mad about it. It’s the first time I’ve been in that position, that close to shooting 59, so I had a blast and I’m ready to learn from it and go build on it [Friday].”

With his ball off the green on No. 17 following his fourth shot, Love chipped in for par from 25 feet, and on No. 18 he walked in a 15-foot birdie putt from the fringe to take a two-stroke lead into the second round.

“I knew it was going in before I hit it. I had the perfect read and I had been making everything all day,” said Love, who has made the cut in all three of his Mackenzie Tour starts this season. “It was all about the putter, everything I hit either lipped out or went in.

“I’m not going to be picky; I’m going to be grateful for my 60.”

Two strokes back of Love is Jared Wolfe, who matched the Oakfield course record, at the time, with a bogey-free 60.

Taylor Pendrith carried the momentum from his runner-up finish into the first round in Halifax, posting a 7-under 65 and is the low Canadian heading into the second round.

Key Information

– This season, Dru Love’s previous-low score before today was the 67 he shot in the third round of the Golf BC Championship. His career-low round on a PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour came at the PGA TOUR’s RSM Classic in 2018, a third-round 64 in Sea Island to go with three 70s. He tied for 54th that week.

– Playing on the Asian Tour in January, Dru Love shot a final-round 65 at Sentosa Golf       Club to tie for 12th

– In his last 13 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and Mackenzie Tour medal-play tournaments, dating to the Sao Paul Golf Club Championship in Brazil in September 2018, Jared Wolfe has seven top-10s and is 124-under. Of his 48 rounds in that span, 28 scores have been in the 60s.

– A year ago, Stoney Crouch shot an opening-round 64 at the Windsor Championship. He matched his career-low Thursday with an 8-under 64. His 8-under Thursday at Oakfield Golf and Country Club was four shots better than his previous-low 2019 18-hole round: a second-round 68 at the Canada Life Open.

– This is the second 63 Sam Fidone has shot in his Mackenzie Tour career. He fired a 63 in the final round of the 2018 Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open on his way to a tie for fourth. He set his career-low at that same tournament, a 62 in the second round.

– Dating to the second round of the Golf BC Championship (he missed the cut), Canada’s Taylor Pendrith has been under-par in 13 of his last 14 rounds. He opened with a 7-under 65 Thursday. Pendrith’s only blemish during this streak was the 2-over 73 he shot the second round of the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open.

–  Playing on a sponsor’s exemption this week, Gander, Newfoundland, native Blair Bursey, making his Mackenzie Tour debut, opened with a 3-under 69 and is tied for 54th after 18 holes.

– Since missing the cut at the Golf BC Championship earlier this season, Brent Grant, in limited 2019 action, has tied for 22nd (Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open) and tied for 19th Osprey Valley Open. In those two made cuts, seven of his eight rounds have been under-par. Grant kept that trend going Thursday, shooting a career-best, 7-under 65 to sit in a tie forfifth.

– Making three of the past four cuts and playing each round under par at the Osprey Valley Open, Albert Pistorius shot the lowest round of his Mackenzie Tour career on Thursday, posting a 7-under 65.

– Charlie Kern made the first albatross of the Mackenzie Tour season on Thursday, making a deuce on hole No. 6 on his way to a 7-under par 65.

Quotable

“When I was 19 or 20 I played an amateur tournament called the Golden Isles back home, it’s a big amateur event in the South East. I was 10-under through 13, like today, but I parred out from there, so I never got to 11-under with two holes left. I’ve been close and I’m not afraid to go low, I can make a lot of birdies. It’s about staying in the right mindset, I didn’t do that on No. 17, but I did it on No. 18 and came right back with a birdie.” – Dru Love

“I played more during the time I was home. I figured anything I did in the summer would be a bonus. Being second (on the Order of Merit) in Latinoamerica I put all the eggs in that basket. Coming up here was to stay loose and try to make an income for us. It’s turning out to be a little more than I thought it would.” – Jared Wolfe

“The main goal is to finish No. 1 and to be fully exempt. The window, I think, is probably closing to be No. 1 on this Tour because of what (Paul) Barjon and (Jake) Knapp have been doing.” –  Jared Wolfe

“I hit the ball well off the tee. I hit one errant drive, and it ended up hitting a tree and I still had a perfect shot into a par-5. Other than that, I kept the ball in play and never had to stress. Any putt I had over 20 feet I got pretty close, and I didn’t miss any of my short putts.” – Jared Wolfe 

“I made a 30-footer on 12 and a couple birdie putts that were outside 10 feet. And I chipped in once on No. 7. It was relatively easy, especially in the rough around here because it’s that bluegrass. I was in the first cut, and it made it a lot easier. It wasn’t a bad shot I hit in there, it just happened to go into the rough. I chipped it and chipped it in.” – Jared Wolfe

“10-under is the lowest I’ve ever shot in a tournament—it ties my lowest ever.” – Jared Wolfe

“I always feel like I’ve been a little later in mental development. In the last couple of years, when I would go low, I knew I had to keep it going. Different guys have different ways of dealing with that, and I’m trying to figure out my way to do it. It’s to not be content and not be excited what I’ve done in a round. I can do that when I’m eating lunch after a round.” – Jared Wolfe

“Going forward, I probably won’t go to Edmonton, but I’ll go to Calgary and Winnipeg. Honestly, this week was a bonus. I knew it was a limited field, and I had to get myself in. I had a great week last week, so this one wasn’t on the schedule to begin with.” – Jared Wolfe

“Last night, I made a last-second change to cross-handed. I made everything today. I mess around with my putting all the time. I really have no fear when it comes to switching. [Wednesday] I was just messing around. My putting didn’t feel solid, so I just started messing around on the practice green. Today was the first time I’ve played 18 holes cross-handed in years.” – Sam Fidone

“Five years ago, and that was the only other 18-hole tournament I’ve ever played cross-handed.” – Sam Fidone On a U.S. Open qualifier in 2014 in Hot Springs, Ark., Hot Springs Country Club, an event he won that got him into sectional qualifying

“I actually missed a two-footer that was just nerves late in the round. Everything kind of calmed down, and I started making everything. I made back-to-back bombs on No. 8 (30 feet) and No. 9 (50 feet). My putt on 9 was from the bottom of the hill, probably a 50-footer.” – Sam Fidone

“I got a weird sensation. I’ve always had the same problem putting cross-handed. I just changed the pressure point on my grip, with my pointer finger and my right thumb on my right hand, and I guess that was it because every putt started going in.” – Sam Fidone

“That’s a total game-time decision (about staying with the grip in the second round). I will wait to see how it feels in the morning because toward the end of the round it started feeling a little odd. But I still made a lot of putts coming in. I think I have a good grasp on it. I think I’ll stay cross-handed all week.” – Sam Fidone

“It’s been a very rough year, especially compared to last year. I was playing with Alex Chiarella at the beginning of the week, and he won Lethbridge. He and I were talking. This game is about patience, and it’s not just patience from day to day. It’s about patience week to week, year to year and season to season because we’re trying to make a career out of this. A couple of bad weeks doesn’t hurt me. I’ve had four or five up here that aren’t great, but that doesn’t affect my way of thinking or my aggressiveness.” – Sam Fidone

First-Round Weather: Sunny. High of 26. Wind 10 KPH.