Brian Decker – PGA Tour Canada
June 6, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – A timely putting lesson and a clean bill of health were all Matt Marshall needed for a red hot start to the PGA TOUR Canada season. The 28-year old from Marana, Arizona fired a 7-under par 63 to take the first round lead Thursday at the Times Colonist Island Savings Open, the first event of the inaugural PGA TOUR Canada season.
Marshall, a fourth-year Tour veteran, received a putting tip from his father on Wednesday night that led to a 63 that saw him navigate the front nine in just 29 strokes.
“What really seems to help me go low is my putter. I got a lesson from my dad last night and all of a sudden it started clicking,” said Marshall. “The greens here are the best I’ve ever seen in an afternoon round.”
A healthy left shoulder, finally free of the nagging inflammation that had been bothering him since last Summer, also set up the round for Marshall, who had been laying low from competition until this week. Monday’s US Open Qualifier in Cle Elum, Washington was the first competitive round Marshall had played in 2013.
“I really didn’t think about a score. I was injured most of the winter and this is really my first tournament, so I didn’t have many expectations,” said Marshall. “I went out and played and all of a sudden putts started going in, and before I knew it I was about 7-under.”
Second place after round one belonged to Meridian, Idaho’s Joe Panzeri, who said he’s arrived at Uplands a year older and wiser for the 2013 season.
“I think playing the course and the event the last couple of years really helps. Feeling comfortable out here is really important,” said Panzeri, who employed a more conservative course strategy to reach his 64. “The last few years I think I’ve played this course a little too aggressively. I hit too many woods, so this year I dialed back a little bit and emphasized fairways and greens.”
PGA TOUR CANADA BEGINS: Shortly after 7:30 AM local time, Coquitlam, British Columbia’s Adam Cornelson struck the first official shot of PGA TOUR Canada’s inaugural season – a solid drive down the middle of the first fairway that led to a birdie.
“I tried to treat it like any other tournament, but there was definitely some excitement to it,” said Cornelson, who shot a one-under par 69 to sit tied for 31st after the first round. “It’s the start of a new era out here and I was excited to be a part of it.”
The Times Colonist Island Savings Open marks the beginning of a new era in Canadian professional golf, with PGA TOUR Canada launching after over 30 years of history as the Canadian Tour. With nine $150,000 tournaments across the country and five Web.com Tour cards for the season’s leading money winners, PGA TOUR Canada becomes a stepping stone to the PGA TOUR.
“The incentive on this Tour is a lot bigger and I think everyone’s really motivated,” said Comox, BC’s Riley Wheeldon, who had the low round by a Canadian at 5-under par 65, giving him a share of third with England’s David Skinns.
The leading money winner at season’s end will be fully exempt on the Web.com Tour for 2014, with the next four players receiving highly placed status.
RED-HOT TAYLOR GETS IN THE HUNT: Perhaps one of the favourites to win this week in Victoria is Abbotsford, BC’s Nick Taylor, who got off to a solid start with a 3-under par 67. Taylor’s recent run of five consecutive victories on the Vancouver Golf Tour has the Canadian golf community buzzing that the former World Amateur no. 1 is ready for a breakout year.
“If you’re winning, it doesn’t matter what Tour you’re on, you’re going to gain confidence,” said Taylor, who finished T-7 at last year’s Times Colonist Island Savings Open. “I’ve been finding different ways to shoot a good score.”
A Ben Hogan Award winner at the University of Washington, Taylor is entering his third full season as a professional. At one point he was 58-under par for 11 consecutive rounds during his five-tournament winning streak.
CHOI MAKES PRO DEBUT: Fresh off a four-win NCAA season at North Carolina State University, Toronto’s Albin Choi made his professional debut on Thursday, posting three birdies and a bogey for a 2-under par 68. The 2010 Canadian Amateur Champion is playing this week on one of two exemptions given to members and recent graduates of Golf Canada’s National Amateur Team alongside Mackenzie Hughes.
“Their support has been tremendous,” said Choi of his time on the national team. “Whatever you needed, they were always there to support you and that was huge. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
– Weather: Overcast, 17 degrees Celsius, light winds in the afternoon gusting to 30 km/h
– Coquitlam, BC’s Matt Makinson had the first hole-in-one in PGA TOUR Canada history, holing an eight iron on the 171-yard 17th hole.
– Defending champion Andrew Roque, playing with a sore right wrist this week, shot a two-over 72 to sit tied for 90th after round one.
– Marshall and Panzeri are no strangers to going low, especially at the same time. At the ATB Financial Classic presented by Telus last year, Panzeri shot a course record 62 in the second round at Windermere Golf and Country Club, only to see Marshall match it the following day.
– Panzeri (64) and Skinns (65) were the only players to post bogey-free rounds Thursday.