Brainerd, Minnesota – The CRMC Championship presented by Gertens teed off in Brainerd, Minnesota, with an exciting display of golf. Ryan Orr from Tampa, Florida, emerged as the first-round leader, firing an impressive 5-under 65. The championship’s fierce competition began under hazy sun and challenging winds.
Orr’s Strategic Surge
Ryan Orr embarked on his round knowing that he needed a strong showing to keep his hopes of advancing to the season-ending Fortinet Cup Championship alive. Sitting at No. 148 on the Fortinet Cup Standings points list, Orr had to break into the top 60 to qualify for the final tournament. After six consecutive missed cuts, Orr approached this tournament with a “nothing-to-lose” mentality, and it paid off. His 5-under 65 matched his season-best score.
Orr, hailing from Tampa, Florida, expressed his approach: “That’s pretty much what I’ve been telling myself all week, well really the last couple weeks, is I have nothing to lose. I just need to trust my stuff and be confident. I don’t know exactly what I need, maybe a top-five, maybe a win, but just have fun, trust my stuff, and try to win the golf tournament.”
Orr’s Opening Brilliance
Orr started his round on the back nine at the Cragun’s Resort Legacy Course and promptly rolled in a 30-footer for birdie on the first hole. His approach shots were consistently precise, keeping them below the hole for most of the round. Orr carded a remarkable seven birdies and two bogeys, showcasing his excellent form.
Wind Challenges Competitors
While Orr capitalized on early docile conditions, the wind began to pick up, making scoring conditions increasingly difficult. The average score on Thursday was 71.832, significantly higher than the previous year’s first round at the CRMC Championship, which averaged 68.487. These winds posed a significant challenge for the competitors.
Tight Contest for Second Place
Despite the wind’s challenge, five players found themselves tied for second place at 4-under 66. The group included Davis Shore, Sam Jean, Cole Bradley, Yi Cao, and Jason Hong. Another seven players were tied for seventh place at 3-under.
Davis Shore’s Eagle Highlights Round
Notably, Davis Shore, the winner of the Osprey Valley Open last month, had a remarkable round, featuring an eagle, five birdies, and two bogeys. Shore’s eagle came on the 16th hole, where he executed a remarkable 30-foot chip after missing long with his approach.
Sitting at No. 9 on the points list coming into this week, Shore understands the importance of strong finishes. A victory here would catapult him into the top five, ensuring conditional status on the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour. He expressed his approach: “I try to kind of not think about it. Just got to go out and shoot low scores, that’s what you’re focused on.”
Bradley’s Gritty Performance
Cole Bradley, residing in St. Augustine, Florida, showcased his tenacity, carding five birdies and just one bogey. His round was marked by impressive saves and quality chip shots, reflecting his determination.
Players Await Completion of First Round
Although play was suspended due to darkness with two groups still on the course, these remaining six players will resume play on Friday at 8:15 a.m., with no changes to the tee times for the second round.
Top Five in Fortinet Cup Standings
The top five players in the Fortinet Cup standings faced challenging conditions on Thursday. Here’s how they fared in the first round:
- Sam Choi (United States): Tied for 41st after an opening round of 70.
- Davis Lamb (United States): Tied for 57th with a 1-over 71.
- Étienne Papineau (Canada): Tied for 78th with a 72.
- Stuart Macdonald (Canada): Struggled with a 75 and is tied for 117th.
- John Pak (United States): Tied for 41st after a round of 70.
Kyle Vance withdrew from the tournament after completing six holes due to injury. This decision means Vance will not qualify for the season-ending Fortinet Championship.
NHL’s Matt Boldy Takes on the Challenge
Minnesota Wild left-winger Matt Boldy participated in the championship, recording a 9-over 79 that included a pair of double-bogeys. Despite the challenging conditions, Boldy finished on a positive note by making a birdie on his final hole, the ninth. He shared his experience: “It’s definitely a lot different when you’re out there with every shot that matters. You’re not scooping any of them off. It’s a little bit more nerve-wracking for sure.”
Quotable Moments The Players Chip in!
- Ryan Orr on the course conditions: “The golf course is awesome. It’s in such good shape, probably the best shape we’ve had all year. The fairways are just so good, the greens roll so perfect. You can make a lot of putts.”
- Davis Shore on navigating windy conditions: “It was playing really difficult today, especially the second nine. The wind wasn’t really blowing at the start of the day, but it was really blowing when we finished up.”
- Cole Bradley on the challenging course: “It was a great test. The into-the-wind holes can be very challenging. It’s a good course for some wind because you’ve got a lot of tee shots that can be uncomfortable, and you’ve just got to step up and make a committed golf swing.”
First-Round Weather: The day featured hazy sun and strong winds, with a high of 81°F (27°C). Winds blew from the SSE at 14-19 mph (22-30 kph), with gusts reaching 42 mph (67 kph).