Holt holds early lead at Osprey Valley Open

PGA TOUR Canada tee marker

CALEDON – SPORTS – Ian Holt said he was happy to be done with Thursday’s opening round of PGA TOUR Canada’s Osprey Valley Open presented by Votorantim Cimentos – CBM Aggregates. The Kent State product just wanted to go home and rest after a windy day of play at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley’s Heathlands Course.

The elements, though, didn’t really phase Holt. He shot a 5-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over a trio of players—Canada’s Blair Hamilton and Americans Jacob Solomon and Parker Gillam—in PGA TOUR Canada’s first event after a two-week break. Holt was anything but rusty. He simply adapted to the conditions, noting that the wind played a significant role all day.

“Very pleased. Playing bogey-free out here today was pretty solid,” said Holt, who had three birdies and an eagle. “I played really well. (I) didn’t really have any stress out there all day long. So, it was nice.”

Holt added that he tried not to do too much in the windy conditions and just tried to take what the course was giving.

“Pars are good, right? So (I wasn’t) trying to go after pins that are tucked,” he explained. “I just tried to make a bunch of pars and maybe slip a couple of birdies in there.” Starting on the back nine, Holt opened with four consecutive pars before recording his first birdie of the day, at the par-5 14th. After another par, he birdied the par-3 16th. He made the turn in 2-under and promptly eagled No. 1, his 10th hole of the day. He added a birdie on top of that on his next hole, with pars the rest of the way.

In a logjam two shots behind Holt are seven players tied for fifth, including Wil Bateman, No. 2 on the Fortinet Cup points list and winner at the ATB Financial Classic presented by Volvo Edmonton earlier this season.

“I just tried to keep the ball in front of me today,” Bateman said. “It was really tough, especially some of those holes into the wind.” Bateman made four birdies and one bogey in his opening round.

Solomon, conditionally exempt when the season began, has made two of three cuts this season, his best finish a tie for 18th in the Tour’s last event, the Prince Edward Island Open presented by IMP Solutions. The former Auburn University golfer tied for 18th. That performance moved him into the top 30 in the Fortinet Cup standings (30th).

“I was really hungry to get back out here,” Solomon said.

Wil Bateman, Cougar Collins, Joe Highsmith, Cooper Musselman, David Pastore and Austin Squires are 3-under and share fifth place.

Eight more players are bunched at 2-under and tied for 12th in the tightly packed leaderboard. In that group Fortinet Cup points leader Brian Carlson. He extended his current streak of under-par rounds to six consecutive with his 69.

Play continues through Sunday.

Did you know Ian Holt’s three previous finishes this season on PGA TOUR Canada included ties for 10th (Royal Beach Victoria Open) 15th (ATB Classic) and 23rd (Prince Edward Island Open)? 

How the top Canadians fared

There were 34 Canadians who started this week, with 33 remaining. Étienne Papineau withdrew during his round due to injury. Blair Hamilton (Burlington, Ontario) Wil Bateman (Edmonton, Alberta) and Cougar Collins (Caledon, Ontario) are the three players inside the top five after one round. Here are the 11 who are par or better through 18 holes.

Pos. Player Score
T2 Blair Hamilton 33-34—67 (4-under)
T5 Wil Bateman 34-34—68 (3-under)
T5 Cougar Collins 34-34—68 (3-under)
T12 Max Sear 34-35—69 (2-under)
T20 Jamie Sadlowski 36-34—70 (1-under)
T20 Noah Steele 36-34—70 (1-under)
T32 James Allenby 39-32—71 (Even)
T32 Hugo Bernard 39-32—71 (Even)
T32 Andrew Harrison 37-34—71 (Even)
T32 Drew Nesbitt 38-33—71 (Even)
T32 Sudarshan Yellamaraju 35-36—71 (Even)

Fortinet Cup Standings

(Through Prince Edward Island Open presented by IMB Solutions)

Rank Player Points
1 Brian Carlson (U.S.) 549
2 Wil Bateman (Canada) 537
3 Scott Stevens (U.S.) 500
4 Jake Knapp (U.S.) 364
5 Joe Highsmith (U.S.) 360
6 Chris R. Wilson (Canada) 329
7 Cooper Dossey (U.S.) 296
8 Jorge Villar (Mexico) 245
9 Trent Phillips (U.S.) 238
10 Austin Hitt (U.S.) 190

This is Ian Holt’s 35th career PGA TOUR Canada start, including his eight appearances last year on the Forme Tour as a PGA TOUR Canada member. While Holt has yet to record a victory, he has a runner-up showing and two third-place performances among his 12 total top-10s. In Edmonton in 2018, Holt shot a final-round 63 only to come up two strokes shy of winner Tyler McCumber in Edmonton. In 2019, Holt tied for third, again in Edmonton, four shots behind winner Taylor Pendrith. Last year on the Forme Tour, Holt’s tie-for-third finish came at The Fuzzy Zoeller Classic at Covered Bridge in Indiana.

Caledon’s Cougar Collins turned in a fine opening round. With TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley his home course, Collins, who played collegiately at Eastern Michigan, opened with a 3-under 68, good for a share of fifth. Collins’ back nine (his opening nine) was somewhat boring, with eight pars and a birdie. His final nine, however, was a bit more interesting. Although he finished the day par-par, his previous seven holes were eagle-bogey-bogey-par-birdie-par-birdie.

Former University of Houston star Blair Hamilton may have had to qualify Monday to get into the tournament, but Thursday he didn’t play like a qualifier. Hamilton is among the leaders after the first round—shooting 4-under, one shot behind leader Ian Holt. Here is how this week’s other qualifiers fared: Kyle Chung (5-over), Brandon Lacasse (3-over), Finigan Tilly (2-under), Nick Costello (4-over), Nicholas Infanti (3-over), Eddy Lai (3-over) and Sudarshan Yellamaraju (even).

While Parker Coody shot a spectacular 60 in Wednesday’s pro-am, he found the going a little tougher in the opening 18 holes. The former University of Texas standout had seven birdies, two eagles and no bogeys on Wednesday, followed by three birdies and three bogeys on his way to an opening, even-par 71. He’s tied for 32nd.

Second-year pro Cooper Dossey, No. 7 on the Fortinet Cup standings, saw his streak of 12 consecutive under-par rounds to begin the season end when he fired an even-par 71 Thursday. The former Baylor star is tied for 32nd.

Austin Ryan and Jake Scott spent time earlier this week with members of Soldier On, a program of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) assisting in the recovery of ill and injured CAF members and veterans through sports and other activities. Ryan struggled on day one, with a 4-over 75, while Scott turned in an even-par 71.

Joe Highsmith, who has a pair of top-four finishes on PGA TOUR Canada this season, just missed the cut at last week’s Barracuda Championship in Truckee, California. He was +6 in the Modified Stableford Scoring event, one point away from advancing to the weekend in his PGA TOUR professional debut. Highsmith is again in the hunt, opening this week with a 3-under 68.

With his 3-under 68, Joe Highsmith kept alive his perfect under-par streak. After not playing in the season-opening Royal Beach Victoria Open as it conflicted with the NCAA Championship, the former Pepperdine All-American has nothing but under-par rounds, nine consecutive: 66-67-66-66-70-67-69-67-68. He’s a combined 37-under this season, his 68 Thursday right on his first-round scoring average this season.

The Players Say…

“You just kind of accept it’s blowing like crazy. Yeah, I was just trying to keep the ball in between the hay.” — Ian Holt’s creative way of saying he was trying to hit fairways 

“I love playing courses where pars are good and a couple-under puts you right there. You know, with no wind I think that this course is pretty getable, but today was tough. (I’m) just happy with the start.” — Wil Bateman 

“It was obviously a really tough day with the conditions.” — Jacob Solomon

“It was pretty windy out there. But the course is unbelievable. It’s in great shape; greens are great. So, it’ll be great for the rest of the week.” — Ian Holt

“This is links, and we got a taste of that wind today. I was speaking to Ian (Holt) out there and he said it’s some of the most wind I’ve ever played in, and I could agree there.” — Wil Bateman

First-Round Weather: Sunny and warm, with a high of 28. Windy for most of the day, W at 6-10 kph, with gusts to 17 kph.

Previous articleBeating Burnout: How CEO Jackie Meyer Pushed Past Burnout to Inspire Others
Next articleCanadian Rangers rescue hunters when their boat engine breaks down
NetNewsledger.com or NNL offers news, information, opinions and positive ideas for Thunder Bay, Ontario, Northwestern Ontario and the world. NNL covers a large region of Ontario, but are also widely read around the country and the world. To reach us by email: newsroom@netnewsledger.com. Reach the Newsroom: (807) 355-1862.