BLAINVILLE, Québec – SPORTS – Ryan Gerard wasn’t going to let a little rain and wind curb his determination. The former University of North Carolina standout, a rookie on PGA TOUR Canada, was quite frustrated about missing the cut last week at the Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Ontario Open.
“I put in a little extra effort; went out and made sure I was as sharp as I could be,” said Gerard of his pre-tournament prep on his way to shooting a 7-under 65 to take sole possession of the lead at the Québec Open on Thursday. “I just tried to focus in a little more, and I think that worked pretty well in my favor today. Hopefully I’ll keep it going for the rest of the week.”
Gerard made eight birdies and had just one bogey in pulling ahead of the field at Club de Golf Le Blainvillier. He credits work on his putting, in particular a switch back to a putter he was more comfortable with, as well as a lot of time on the greens for his success. Starting his day playing the back nine, the 22-year-old made a 20-foot putt on No. 7, the first of back-to-back putts, to close out his round.
“It took a bounce I wasn’t expecting and ended up a little farther away,” Gerard said. “That’s probably the best putt I’ve hit in the last month or so.”
His other putts, even ones that didn’t go in, had good speed and lines.
“So, I felt really good about that,” continued Gerard.
Patience is also something Gerard is putting stock in this week. Especially, he noted, when playing conditions weren’t ideal.
“You’ve got to really pick your spots and make good decisions. Otherwise, you are going to have a tough time,” Gerard said. “I felt like I just really stuck to my plan well and executed when I had my opportunities. It seemed to work out pretty well.”
Gerard holds a one-stroke lead over Bryce Hendrix, Van Holmgren and Mitchell Schow, who are all at 6-under.
“It was a fun day,” said Holmgren, who matched Gerard with eight birdies. “The ball-striking was on.”
Tristan Mandur and Zack Taylor are 5-under and tied for fifth place.
Joey Savoie, Brandon Lacasse and Etienne Papineau, who are all from Québec, had solid showings in their home province. Savoie and Lacasse finished 4-under, while Papineau was 2-under.
“It was really fun to play in front of friends and family. I think Golf Quebec and PGA TOUR Canada have done a really nice job this week,” Savoie said. “It feels good to play at home. I haven’t had the chance the last two years.”
Savoie, who started on the back nine, birdied six of his first eight holes and added another shortly after.
“I started on fire today,” said Savoie, who cooled off down the stretch, with three consecutive bogeys before a birdie to cap off things.
The latter, he explained, brought back some needed momentum heading into Friday. Savoie also emphasized how special it is to have family and friends providing support.
Papineau, a native of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, agrees.
“It was good,” he said. “It was fun to have them around watching me play. It’s been a long time.”
Did you know tournament leader Ryan Gerard has only played in three prior PGA TOUR Canada events? The rookie out of North Carolina tied for 18th at the Prince Edward Island Open presented by IMB Solutions and tied for 26th at the Osprey Valley Open presented by Votorantim Cimentos – CBM Aggregates. Gerard missed the cut last week at the Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Ontario Open.
How the top Canadians fared
Seventeen Canadians shot under-par rounds Thursday. Tristan Mandur, who is playing on a sponsor exemption and is from Mill Bay, British Columbia, is tied for fifth, at 5-under. He leads 41 other Canadians after one round of play.
|T5||Tristan Mandur||33-34—67 (5-under)|
|T8||James Allenby||34-34—68 (4-under)|
|T8||Wil Bateman||33-35—68 (4-under)|
|T8||Brandon Lacasse||33-35—68 (4-under)|
|T8||Joey Savoie||37-31—68 (4-under)|
|T19||Myles Creighton||34-35—69 (3-under)|
|T19||Jared du Toit||35-34—69 (3-under)|
|T19||Jamie Sadlowski||35-34—69 (3-under)|
|T19||Francis Tanguay||35-34—69 (3-under)|
|T36||Hugo Bernard||37-33—70 (2-under)|
|T36||Chris Crisologo||35-34—70 (2-under)|
|T36||Thomas Giroux||33-37—70 (2-under)|
|T36||Drew Nesbitt||34-36—70 (2-under)|
|T36||Étienne Papineau||34-36—70 (2-under)|
|T36||Max Sear||33-37—70 (2-under)|
|T36||Jeevan Sihota||34-36—70 (2-under)|
|T36||Noah Steele||34-36—70 (2-under)|
Fortinet Cup Standings
(Through Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Ontario Open)
|Rank||Player||Points||First-Round Tournament Pos.|
|1||Danny Walker (U.S.)||720||T147|
|2||Brian Carlson (U.S.)||620||T19|
|3||Wil Bateman (Canada)||597||T8|
|4||Noah Goodwin (U.S.)||520||WD|
|5||Scott Stevens (U.S.)||519||T8|
|6||Cooper Musselman (U.S.)||418||T106|
|7||Joe Highsmith (U.S.)||404||Not Playing|
|8||Cooper Dossey (U.S.)||377||T36|
|9||Jake Knapp (U.S.)||369||T36|
|10||Trent Phillips (U.S.)||338||Not Playing|
Noah Goodwin’s streak of leading tournaments after consecutive rounds has come to an end at four. Last week’s wire-to-wire winner in Ontario opened with a 1-under 71 but withdrew following his round due to an injured back.
All other tournament winners this season are in action. Wil Bateman (ATB Classic presented by Volvo Edmonton) and Scott Stevens (Royal Beach Victoria Open) lead the charge for PGA TOUR Canada’s first repeat winner of the season. Bateman and Stevens are both 4-under. Brian Carlson (Prince Edward Island Open presented by IMP Solutions) is 3-under, while Fortinet Cup points leader Danny Walker (Osprey Valley Open presented by Votorantim Cimentos – CBM Aggregates) had the highest score of the champions, at 5-over. It was also Walker’s high score of the season, two shots worse than the second-round 73 he shot in Victoria. Walker has only had three over-par scores this season.
Two significant PGA TOUR Canada players are not in Québec this week, with Trent Phillips playing on a sponsor’s exemption at the PGA TOUR’s Wyndham Championship and Joe Highsmith teeing it up at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship. Phillips, No. 10 in the Fortinet Cup standings, opened with a 72 in Greensboro, and is tied for 123rd through 18 holes. Highsmith, No. 7, is still on the course playing in Mountain Daylight Time at Farmington’s Oakridge Country Club.
Étienne Papineau lives just 45 minutes away from Club de Golf Le Blainvillier, site of this week’s PGA TOUR Canada tournament. “It’s nice. I think they’ve put out a really good atmosphere, at least for us French people and Canadians in general,” Papineau said. “But, definitely, if you speak French here you get a little bit of a bonus from the crowd. So, it was really enjoyable.”
Of this week’s Monday qualifiers, American Viraj Garewal leads the way. Gareway finished the round tied for seventh, at 4-under. Scores for the other seven tournament additions include: Michael Sakane (3-under), Michael Sutton (1-under), Chris Crawford (even), Thomas Giroux (1-over), Josh Goldenberg (1-over) James Hervol (4-over) and Nick Infanti (5-over).
Josh Goldenberg, who is making his PGA TOUR Canada debut this week, finished 63rd on the 2021-22 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica TotalPlay Cup points standings, unable to retain his playing privileges. Three weeks ago, at the Dev Series Final, a four-round tournament in Mexico that issues PGA TOUR Latinoamérica cards to the top finishers, Goldenberg, a 2019 University of Pennsylvania graduate, won the tournament in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, gaining full 2022-23 status in Latin America.
So far, so good for University of Utah alums. Two of Thursday’s top finishers—Mitchell Schow (6-under) and Tristan Mandur (5-under)— were college teammates in Salt Lake City. Schow played for the Utes from 2016-20 and Mandur’s career went from 2017-22.
The Players Chip in!
“You had to be pretty precise and guess pretty well.” — Ryan Gerard on the wet and windy conditions
“But keep it in the fairways. Definitely a little bit more of a premium when that happens.” — Ryan Gerard
“I’m just going to keep taking it one shot at a time and keep learning. This is my first season up here and so I’m just going to keep learning.” — Bryce Hendrix
“You never win the tournament on the first day. So, plenty of golf in front of me. I’ve just got to correct little things on the range and then hopefully have a better day [Friday]. But I’m happy. I’m happy with my first round.” — Étienne Papineau
“I don’t think the pins were too hard today. There are definitely holes you can take advantage of with the pins, and there are ones you definitely have to play away from. But the greens are soft. You can land long irons into them.” — Zack Taylor
“I’m going to go work on my putting a little bit. Hopefully (I can) make those six-foot birdie putts [Friday].” — Motin Yeung
“Good conditions, great golf course. You need to hit it well here because there are trees on both sides of the fairways most of the time. It’s a solid golf track.” — Joey Savoie
First-Round Weather: Mostly cloudy and pleasant, with a high of 28. Light, intermittent rain fell during the day, with wind S at 7-9 kph, with gusts to 11 kph.