July 12, 2013, Fort McMurray, AB (ISN) – Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, British Columbia maintained his first round lead Friday at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON, shooting a 1-under par 71 in windy conditions to lead by a shot over local favourite Stuart Anderson heading into the weekend.
Taylor, who finished tied for second at last week’s Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel, parred his first 16 holes before making his only birdie of the day on the eighth (his 17th) and is bogey-free through 36 holes.
“Last week was disappointing. I had a great chance and didn’t get it done,” said Taylor. “Today it was tough to score out there. I made a lot of good four- or five-footers for par.”
Taylor currently sits fourth on the Order of Merit after T-4 and T-2 results to start the season. The former World Amateur no. 1 said he’s gunning for a win to try and secure his place in the The Five, who will graduate to the Web.com Tour for 2014.
“Wins are so crucial here, when you’re playing well it’s important to take advantage of it,” said Taylor. “Hopefully I can do that tomorrow. I’m in the best position I can think of.”
At 8-under par through 36 holes, Taylor will head to the weekend with a large group of players in hot pursuit. 28 players sit at 3-under par or better and within five shots of the lead through two rounds.
“The leaderboard is jam-packed,” said Taylor. “Hopefully I can get a good round in tomorrow and a few of us can separate ourselves from the field, and hopefully I can get a good one tomorrow and give myself a little cushion.
Hometown hero Anderson sets up for weekend charge
With adverse conditions making Fort McMurray Golf Club a challenging test on Friday, players were looking for any advantage they might have to gain an edge on the field. For Fort McMurray native Stuart Anderson, that edge came in the form of course knowledge – lots of it.
“I’m really lucky. I’ve played this golf course so many times in my life,” said the 35-year old. Anderson grew up playing Fort McMurray Golf Club in the summers as a youth and said he was comfortable plotting his way around the golf course. “I haven’t hit a driver in two days. I’m just playing conservative golf, and when I do have a pin to attack I’m attacking them.”
Anderson said his experience as a professional helped him manage conditions on a day when just seven players of 156 broke 70 and just 40 players broke par.
“It was just one of those days where I knew a lot of guys would complain about the weather, but I went out there with a strong heart.”
Tough conditions give Fort McMurray its bite
With strong, swirling winds and cool temperatures in the Fort McMurray area on Friday, players found scoring opportunities few and far between.
“With the winds swirling, it was really tough to hit it close to the flagstick,” said Carefree, Arizona’s David Dragoo, who finished runner-up here in 2011 to Danny Sahl and shot a 1-under 71 to sit tied for third at 6-under par. “You have to be really sure about what kind of shot you want to hit.”
Taylor said the tough conditions made safe play a priority, taking driver out of his hands and making him think twice about playing aggressively.
“I knew it was going to be tough and I knew getting it in play was going to be the priority,” said Taylor. “It made it tough to hit it close. It wasn’t that you couldn’t attack, but it was tough to get it close.”
– Weather: Cloudy, 14 degrees celcius, winds 32 km/h gusting to 47 km/h
– Following a suspension of play due to inclement weather on Thursday, round one resumed Friday morning at 7:30 AM and pushed back round two tee times by an hour.
– The cut came at 1-over par, with 70 players making it to the weekend
– Just two players shot in the 60s both rounds – Stuart Anderson (69-68) and Jaco Ahlers (69-69)
– 20-year old Jorge Fernandez-Valdes, currently second on Los Cinco, NEC Series – PGA TOUR Latinoamerica’s Order of Merit, shot the round of the day with a 5-under par 67 to reach 6-under total and a tie for third.
– 15 players have made the cut in each of the first three events: Nick Taylor, Jaco Ahlers, Tyler Aldridge, Cory Renfrew, Dan Buchner, Riley Wheeldon, Josh Habig, Brock Mackenzie, Brady Schnell, John Ellis, Michael Gligic, Garrett Sapp, Mark Hubbard, Nathan Tyler, Joe Panzeri,
– Players will go off the first tee in twosomes in round three starting at 7:40 AM. The final pairing of Nick Taylor and Stuart Anderson will go off at 1:20 PM.