BLAINVILLE, Quebec—It was a cool, overcast day here Thursday, but Blair Bursey powered through the inclement weather and took early control of the first Mackenzie Tour event in 20 months.
Starting in the first group of the day, the Gander, Newfoundland, native set the pace, firing a 6-under 66, good for a two-shot lead at the Mackenzie Investments Open, which marks the first stop on the 2021 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada schedule.
“I was fortunate today to get off to a good start,” said Bursey. “I hit some good shots early and then missed a few. But things kind of progressed as the round went along, so it was a good snowball effect.”
“There are some narrow landing areas on the golf course, more than most of us are probably used to playing. This helps level the playing field because it forces everyone into the same position and requires more mid-length approaches instead of being able to hit driver and wedges,” added leader Blair Bursey.
The 24-year-old saved the best for last making birdie on three of the last four holes finishing with a 32 on the back nine as the rain began to fall.
“It was good to get a few coming in,” said Bursey. “I’ll get some rest, come back [Friday], see how the weather shakes out and be ready to go.”
Aurora, Ontario’s Marc Casullo made a late-afternoon charge and sits just two shots off the lead despite finishing with a bogey on his 18th hole. Consistency was the key to his game.
“I didn’t really get hot,” said Casullo. “I made a lot of pars and made birdies when I could.”
Playing in his home province, Keven Fortin-Simard made four birdies on his first seven holes en route to a 3-under 69 and currently is tied for third with Mike Gonko.
“I hit the ball great and made it easy on myself,” said the Chicoutimi native. “I gave myself some close looks and a lot of straight putts and that made it quite easy from the start.”
Round two of the Mackenzie Investments Open begins Friday morning at 7:15 a.m. EDT.
- Blair Bursey was bogey-free in his opening round, with his birdies coming at the par-3 fourth, the par-4 15th and 18th and three birdies on the par-5s (Nos. 8, 11 and 17).
- Six players are tied for fifth, at 2-under 70: Andrew Ledger, Chris Wilson, Linus Lo, James Seymour and Jesse Smith.
- Former Montreal Canadien Donald Audette, an amateur, is in the field this week. He opened with a 7-over 79.
- The top non-Canadian is France’s Baptiste Mory, who fashioned an even-par 72 and is tied for 16th with 10 others.
- Only 15 players managed to break par at Club De Golf Le Blainvillier in the opening round.
- In all, 26 players were par or better on day one.
- The top-five players on the final Points List will earn 2022 PGA TOUR Canada membership. First place on the Points List will receive exempt status for the 2022 PGA TOUR Canada season, while those finishing in the second-through-fifth positions will earn exempt status through the first membership reshuffle based on player performance.
“I haven’t played a tournament in a long time, so it feels great to be back out. Today I focused on taking it easy and enjoying the moment.” – Linus Lo
“I made a really long birdie putt on hole 3, which built confidence early. The biggest thing during the round was to make sure I stuck to my game plan, which translated into making putts.” – Linus Lo
“I’ve played this golf course so many times, dating back to my first Quebec Amateur Championship. This is the first time I have played it this soft, which makes for a lot of birdie chances. You still have to pick your spots because it is the type of course that can bite really quickly if you’re not careful.” — Keven Fortin-Simard
Rainy and cool, with a high of 19. Wind WNW at 9 kph.