OTTAWA – SPORTS – Leicester, England’s Greg Eason shot an 8-under 63 on Thursday at Hylands Golf Club to take the first round lead at the inaugural Forces & Families Open. Eason carded seven birdies, an eagle and one bogey to lead by one over Crookston, Minnesota’s Travis Ross and Longwood, Florida’s Sam Ryder.
The PGA TOUR Canada rookie, who is playing in his first season as a professional following a standout career at the University of Central Florida, was upbeat about his round despite a bogey at the 18th hole following an errant tee shot.
“I only really missed one shot and that was the tee shot down the last. I played some nice golf. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, to be honest,” said Eason, who was the runner-up at the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel three weeks ago in Thunder Bay. Eason missed his first cut of the season last week at the ATB Financial Classic despite shooting 3-under par for the first two rounds, and said he was excited to continue what has been a strong year so far.
“I never really did anything that badly last week, it’s just the scores were very low and mine weren’t,” Eason said. “I played well the week before and I’m just trying to do the same things I’ve been trying to do all year.”
The 22-year old, who now calls the Orlando area home, has three top-25 finishes on the season including his runner-up finish in Thunder Bay. Currently eighth on the Order of Merit, Eason said the experience of being in contention in front of galleries and under pressure has already helped him mature as a player in his first season as a professional.
“I’d not played in front of that many people before,” said Eason, who finished second to Cincinnati, Ohio’s Wes Homan by a shot. “It was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed the day with Wes, and I think hopefully it will give me a good step for this week. I’m just hoping to continue what I’ve been doing, and hopefully try and sneak in that top five.”
Ryder, who finished a career-best T10 last week at the ATB Financial Classic, and Ross were one shot back of Eason, followed Scotland’s Paul Ferrier and Libertyville, Illinois’ Michael Schachner at 6-under 66.
ROSS LOOKS TO TURN FIRST SEASON AROUND
Though he’s enjoyed his first season in Canada, 26-year old rookie Travis Ross admitted he’s been struggling to find his game and compete on PGA TOUR Canada in 2014. With a 7-under 64 in round one, Ross is hoping he’s turned a corner in round one.
“It’s been awesome, but I’ve been struggling hitting the ball starting with the weekend in Vancouver,” said Ross, pointing to the season’s first event, the PC Financial Open, as the start of his struggles. “Since then I’ve been grinding and just trying to figure it out. Finally, there’s at least a littler glimmer of hope here.”
Ross has made three cuts in seven starts this season, with his 64 topping his previous best round of 67. The Crookston, Minnesota native said he’s relieved to have a good round in the books and is excited for what’s to come tomorrow.
“I finally actually started hitting the ball well, and putted good too,” said Ross. “I’ve been hitting it terrible. It’s been pretty humbling, to be honest. I’ve played quite poorly to what I was assuming how I’d do out here. I was fun to finally put a round together, because I haven’t yet.”
MACKENZIE KEEPS IT GOING WITH 65 ON DAY ONE
Last week’s ATB Financial Classic champion Brock Mackenzie kept his solid play going on Thursday, firing a bogey-free 66 to share sixth place at 5-under. The 33-year old has now carded 36 birdies to just three bogeys for his last 90 holes, and hopes to make the most of his recent stretch of solid play.“When things are going good, you just want to keep playing and try to continue that as long as you can,” said Mackenzie. “It wasn’t as great as I hit it and everything last week, but I can’t complain – I played solid.”
- Weather: 24 degrees (26 degrees with Humidex). Partly cloudy. Winds NW 12 km/h
- Eason’s round of 64 was the lowest of his first season on PGA TOUR Canada
- Wills Smith recorded a hole-in-one on the 3rd hole with a 6-iron from 178 yards, the sixth hole-in-one of the season on PGA TOUR Canada
- Bogey-free rounds: Ryan Brehm (66), Brock Mackenzie (66), Jordan Krantz (66)
- Brock Mackenzie is looking to become the first back-to-back winner on PGA TOUR Canada since Eugene Wong in 2012 at The Great Waterway Classic and the TOUR Championship of Canada
- Open Qualifier Stephane Dubois of Brantford, Ontario fired a 4-under 67 in his first round on PGA TOUR Canada