CARDIGAN, Prince Edward Island — Justin Doeden’s clubs didn’t arrive until a day before PGA TOUR Canada’s Prince Edward Island Open presented by IMP Solutions got started. It was late afternoon by the time his bag completed the trip from Saskatchewan.
Doeden, thus, said being able to play a little golf Thursday was a lot of fun.
That may be an understatement. The 27-year-old from the University of Minnesota, a winner on the LOCALiQ Series played in the middle of the global pandemic, shot an 8-under 64 for sole possession of the lead after one round at the Dundarave Golf Course.
“I didn’t haven’t a bunch of practice without my golf clubs. So, I was just doing a bunch of nothing the last couple of days,” Doeden said. “So maybe this is my new practice routine. Just don’t practice. It worked out today. So, I’m looking forward to the next couple of days.”
A quick beginning put Doeden ahead of the pack early. He birdied five of the first seven holes (and six of eight) to get to what he called “a dream start.” Doeden was pleased with his drives and noted he was in the fairway all day long, collecting nine birdies along the way.
Canadian Drew Nesbitt can relate, and in more ways than one. He played the round with Doeden and finished a stroke back, at 7-under. Nesbitt finished fast, with four straight birdies on his back nine, netting five of six in a stretch en route to standing alone in second place.
Oh, and yes, Nesbitt had club troubles, too. His plight proved to be even more severe. His bag was stolen in Saskatchewan.
Fortunately for Nesbitt, he’s from the Toronto area and had a layover on his way to this week’s tournament. He called his mother, and she rounded up some old irons he had in the garage. Mom then drove to Nesbitt’s car, which was parked at a cousin’s house, to retrieve wedges, balls, gloves and a bag.
“I carry it when I’m back home,” Nesbitt said. “She was able to throw it all together.”
Nesbitt leads the closest challengers to Doeden. He enters Friday’s second round with a one-shot edge over third-place Cooper Dossey (6-under). Benjamin Shipp, Kieran Vincent and Joey Vzrich are tied for fourth at 5-under.
Fortinet Cup points leader Wil Bateman, who won in Edmonton two weeks ago, had an opening-round score of 73 and is 1-over.
Did you know that Cooper Dossey is the only player on this year’s PGA TOUR Canada to shoot under par in all nine rounds this season? He extended the streak with a 6-under 66 Thursday.
How the Canadians are faring
Drew Nesbitt leads the Canadians after one round. He’s second overall at 7-under. Here are all the players who are even-par or better after 18 holes.
|2||Drew Nesbitt||65 (7-under)|
|T12||Andrew Harrison||69 (3-under)|
|T12||Noah Steele||69 (3-under)|
|T23||Myles Creighton||70 (2-under)|
|T23||Jeevan Sihota||70 (2-under)|
|T40||Eric Banks||71 (1-under)|
|T40||Brendan MacDougall||71 (1-under)|
|T40||Jamie Sadlowski||71 (1-under)|
|T40||Riley Wheeldon||71 (1-under)|
|T40||Chris R. Wilson||71 (1-under)|
|T57||Marc Bourgeois||72 (Even)|
|T57||Jared du Toit||72 (Even)|
|T57||Max Sear||72 (Even)|
Fortinet Cup Standings
(Through ATB Classic presented by Volvo Edmonton)
|1||Wil Bateman (Canada)||531|
|2||Scott Stevens (U.S.)||500|
|3||Jake Knapp (U.S.)||329|
|T4||Joe Highsmith (U.S.)||245|
|T4||Jorge Villar (Mexico)||245|
|6||Cooper Dossey (U.S.)||226|
|T7||Joey Savoie (Canada)||150|
|9||Jeffrey Kang (U.S.)||133|
|10||Jake Scott (U.S.)||132|
Tournament leader Justin Doeden and Drew Nesbitt, who is in second, pushed each other to the top of the leaderboard in the first round. “He kind of got it going earlier than I did,” Nesbitt said. “I kind of turned and got hot towards the later part of that.” Doeden (8-under) has a one-shot lead over Nesbitt (7-under).
Justin Doeden is playing his 34th career round as a PGA TOUR Canada member. He played full time in both 2018 and 2019. In 2021, he played on the Forme Tour. In 2019, he posted his best PGA TOUR Canada finish, a tie for third at the Lethbridge Open, a week that included a 9-under 62. A year ago, on the U.S.-based Forme Tour, Doeden had back-to-back top-five finishes, at the Auburn Invitational in Alabama (tied for third)—another tournament where he shot a 62. Three weeks later, outside Chicago, at the Bolingbrook Invitational, Doeden tied for fourth.
This is only Kieran Vincent’s third professional start. The Liberty University product by way of Zimbabwe had six birdies and one bogey (at No. 8).
A week after completing his PGA TOUR Latinoamerica season, Austin Hitt, medalist at the Orlando-area Qualifying Tournament, is making his PGA TOUR Canada debut this week. Hitt, a former University of North Carolina golfer, finished 14th in the final TotalPlay Cup standings, PGA TOUR Latinoamerica’s equivalent to the Fortinet Cup. Hitt enjoyed three top-10 finishes during the season, including a runner-up showing at the Jalisco Open in Guadlajara, Mexico, in late-May. Hitt began the PEI Open with a 4-under 68 and sits in a tie for seventh with Americans AndrewDorn, Brian Carlson and Mitchell Schow and Germany’s Lukas Euler.
Like Austin Hitt, Canadian Noah Steele is also exempt on PGA TOUR Canada but missed the first tournaments of the season as he completed his PGA TOUR Latinoamerica year. Steele, a native of Kingston, Ontario, is also making his debut at this week’s tournament. In Latin America, Steele played in 11 of the 12 tournaments, finishing the year 71st in the TotalPlay Cup standings and was unable to retain his membership card. Steele opened with a 3-under 69 and is tied for 12th
It wasn’t the best of outings for the Monday’s qualifiers as none of the eight were able to break par on day one. Thomas Code (1-over), Art Griffin (1-over), Harrison Ott (1-over), Matt Kreutz (3-over), Sudarshan Yellamaraju (3-over), Jonathan Hewlett (5-over), Calvin Ross (7-over) and Patrick Sullivan (8-over).
After his season-opening playoff win over Jake Knapp at the Royal Beach Victoria Open, Scott Stevens failed to make the cut at the ATB Classic in Edmonton. Stevens had a difficult opening round Thursday, shooting a 78 to sit at 6-over after the first round.
The Player’s chip in
“We were feeding off each other—Drew and I—and we were just kind of making birdies left and right. That’s always fun.” —Justin Doeden
“When you see a guy hit lots of good shots, it just gives you that positive (feeling).” —Drew Nesbitt
“It was a good day. Everything was clicking. I really didn’t leave myself in a bad spot all day.” —Cooper Dossey
“It was just preparation. I was able to execute the game plan that I set up this morning, and so that was key.” —Kieran Vincent
“I feel like I’m playing some pretty good golf for the last two or three weeks. I made both cuts, just having made a bunch of putts, and I think the ball was lifted today. It’s just about staying patient out here. I feel like my game is in a good spot.” —Justin Doeden on his start to the 2022 season
“It’s nice to get off to a great start. Any time you can play a really good round one it just kind of sets up for a good week.” —Drew Nesbitt
First-Round Weather: Mostly sunny and mild. High of 23. Wind W at 2-4 kph.