|1||Keenan Huskey (USA)||32-35—67 (-5)|
|T2||Peter Mathison (USA)||33-35—68 (-4)|
|T2||Bennett Baker (USA)||33-35 – 68 (-4)|
|T2||Scott Stevens (USA)||33-35 – 68 (-4)|
|T2||Will Chandler (USA)||33-35 – 68 (-4)|
DOTHAN, Alabama — Keenan Huskey leads four players by one stroke after shooting an opening-round 5-under 67 on Tuesday during the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament at RTJ Golf Trail at Highland Oaks.
After bogeying his first hole of the day, Huskey reeled off five birdies over his next seven holes en route to a front-nine 32. On the back nine, he birdied his final two holes after a bogey on No. 15.
“(I felt good about) pretty much everything,” Huskey said. “I hit it really well. My distance control was really good. I was able to make a few putts because of that.”
Huskey, who played collegiately at South Carolina from 2014 to 2018, previously earned fully exempt status for the first half of the 2019 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season. After finishing T11 at Q-School, Huskey played in five events, with his top finish a T39 at the 2019 Bayview Place DCBank Open presented by Times Colonist.
“The last couple days I found something that I’m feeling pretty good about,” Huskey said. “Obviously it worked today, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
The quartet of players at 4-under-par includes Peter Mathison, Bennett Baker, Scott Stevens and Will Chandler.
In spite of his first-round 68, Mathison didn’t feel great about his game entering the week.
“I hit it well yesterday but a couple days ago, it was not great,” Mathison said. “It feels great to come out and start strong.”
Nineteen players recorded subpar rounds on Tuesday in Dothan. During the morning wave, only five players broke par, led by Ryan Grider’s 2-under 70. During the afternoon wave, 14 players shot under par, including each of the top seven on the leaderboard.
Calum Masters and Turk Pettit are tied for sixth after each carding 69 in the opening round. For Masters, a Georgia alum, RTJ Golf Trail at Highland Oaks is his home course and noted some differences from the usual set up.
“The greens were definitely faster and a lot firmer,” Masters said. “Lately they’ve been pretty soft. I was gone for a stretch of weeks to play in some tournaments. Once I got back Sunday and played, I noticed they had firmed up and gotten a lot quicker. It was definitely a little bit of an adjustment, but I expected that. I knew they wouldn’t keep them soft and slow for the tournament.”
Four players posted 2-under 70 to round out the top 10 – Ryan Grider, Matt Echelmeier, Jeff Burton and Peter Knade.
Wednesday’s second round begins at 7:15 a.m. (CST) off Nos. 1 and 10. The players who played in the morning wave on Tuesday will play in the afternoon on Wednesday and vice versa.
Did you know Ryan Grider, who started on No. 10, didn’t make any pars on the front nine during Tuesday’s round? He was 4-over after Nos. 1-4, making two double bogeys during that span. Grider played Nos. 5-9 in 6-under, making four birdies and an eagle en route to 2-under 34.
How the Tournament Works
One-hundred-one players entered this tournament, and there are 99 remaining. Below is a breakdown of the various Mackenzie Tour membership statuses available this week.
|Medalist||Exempt membership for the 2021 season|
|2nd through 6th (no ties
|Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season|
|7th through 25th (plus ties)||Conditional membership|
- This is a 72-hole, no-cut event. There will be playoffs, if necessary, for the medalist position and for the sixth and final position available.
- Players in this week’s field come from eight countries (Canada, Chinese Taipei, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and the United States).
- Each of the four players tied for second (68) shot 33 on the front nine and 35 on the back nine.
- Bennett Baker (68) played collegiately at Florida State University from 2015 to 2019. He carded a bogey-free back nine on Tuesday, making three birdies on his way to 33. He made two birdies in a front-nine 35.
- Turk Pettit (69), an Alabama native, is a senior on the Clemson University men’s golf team. Pettit double-bogeyed his opening hole of the day, but responded by birdieing four of his next eight holes en route to a front-nine 34. He added two birdies and a bogey on the back nine for 35.
- Ryan Grider (70) defeated WAGR then-No. 1 Chun An Yu in the Round of 32 at the 2020 Maridoe Amateur in December. Grider, a senior at Baylor University, finished third at the event. Grider was also one of 20 players named to the Haskins Award Watch List for the 2020-21 season.
“The last couple days I found something that I’m feeling pretty good about. Obviously it worked today, so hopefully we can keep it going.” –Keenan Huskey
“I really just tried to stay patient and hit it to the fat sides of these greens and try to play smart. Because if you get short-sided, it’s really difficult to get up-and-down. I did a good job of playing smart and playing to the fat sides and committing to that.” – Peter Mathison
“Yesterday something clicked. It’s felt good ever since.” –Peter Mathison
“It’s my home course, so it definitely helps knowing where the slopes are and everything like that. I definitely think it’s a second-shot golf course.” – Calum Masters
“I’ve been working hard, so there’s no reason to not trust what I’ve been working on.” –Calum Masters
“There aren’t a lot of birdie holes, even the par-5s aren’t guaranteed birdies.” –Nick Branchina
“I picked really good targets and I was able to hit my number a lot. My goal for the day was to have as many stress-free pars as I could and I did that.” –Andrew Hudson
“You have to be very precise with your yardages – hitting your number and hitting your line. The course is also kind of long. It’s hard to hit 7- and 5-irons into really small targets, which this course demands that you do.” –Andrew Hudson
“I think around the greens is playing difficult and into the greens especially. If you miss the green, the rough is playing pretty dry. It’s dead Bermuda out here, so you’re going to get big kicks off the slopes. If you’re short-sided, you’re going to have a tough chip up to the green.” –Adrien Pendaries
First-Round Weather: Sunny skies and a high of 72. Winds SE at 4-8 mph.