CALEB STURGEON TAKES FIRST ROUND LEAD IN KELOWNA
Laurens, South Carolina’s Caleb Sturgeon shot a 7-under 64 on Thursday at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf and Country Club to take the first round lead at the inaugural GolfBC Championship, the third event of the 2016 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season.
The 23-year old University of South Carolina graduate holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to reach 7-under, one shot ahead of Victoria, B.C.’s Cory Renfrew, French Polynesia’s Vaita Guillaume and Cosa Mesa, California’s Jake Knapp.
“It was a good feeling,” said Sturgeon of the long birdie putt at the final hole. “I hadn’t made too many long putts today. Just to see that one go in to close out the day gave me some good momentum going into tomorrow.”
Sturgeon’s other notable highlight from the day came on the par-4 2nd hole, where he holed out from 121 yards. Beyond a few fireworks, however, the second-year pro said it was mostly consistency that led him to his solid opening round.
“I felt good over the golf ball. I just did everything solid. I did hole out, but other than that I felt like I had a good attitude, and kept it moving forward,” said Sturgeon.
Renfrew, a fifth-year Mackenzie Tour member, shot his first sub-70 round of the season to hold solo second place and credited a different approach than his first two events of the season (T50-CUT) for his round.
“I worked hard over the weekend and came into this week with a different attitude, trying to go get it instead of letting it come to me. I think I was just relaxed from the get-go, even though I started with a bogey on my second hole. I just stayed patient and had fun out there,” said Renfrew.
Guillaume, meanwhile, leveraged a stellar short game for his round 65, including a hole out for eagle from about 60 yards on the 18th (his ninth hole of the day) and a difficult up-and-down for birdie on the ninth.
“When you know that your short game can save you from bad situations, it takes a little bit of pressure off. Fortunately, I found a little swing though this morning that seems to have helped,” said Guillaume.
Knapp, who Monday qualified for the event, said he was appreciative of the opportunity to compete this week and took advantage with a solid opening round.
“I felt like this was all I really needed, to get through those Mondays,” said Knapp. “Those are really the hard part for me, and if I played well enough in those, I knew I had the game to play well in the actual tournament.”
First Round Leaderboard (Bold denotes Canadian):
Caleb Sturgeon – 64 (-7)
Cory Renfrew – 65 (-6)
Vaita Guillaume – 65 (-6)
Jake Knapp – 65 (-6)
KEY NUMBERS TO KNOW:
64: Caleb Sturgeon’s opening round at Gallagher’s Canyon, representing the new course record.
12: The number of players within two shots of the lead.
89: Players under par on day one.
Caleb Sturgeon is making his third career start on the Mackenzie Tour. He ranks 11th on the Order of Merit after starting the season with finishes of 6th and T22.
Sturgeon earned exempt status through the first four events of the season with a T11 finish at the USA East No. 1 Q-School.
Sturgeon played college golf at the University of South Carolina with fellow Mackenzie Tour members Matt NeSmith, Will Starke and Sean Kelly as teammates.
Cory Renfrew is making his 40th career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. He owns 11 career top-10s, including a win at the 2012 Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON.
Renfrew’s 1st round position of T2 represents his best career start on the Mackenzie Tour.
Renfrew attended the University of British Columbia, where he won the 2008 Golf Canada Canadian University/College Championship.
Vaita Guillaume is making his eighth career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. In 2015 he made two cuts in five starts, including a season-best T11 at the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open.
Guillaume was born in Paris, France and grew up in Tahiti, French Polynesia. The 27-year old attended Campbell University where he captured five individual wins.
Guillaume earned exempt status for the first four events of the season with a T5 finish at the USA East No. 2 Q-School earlier this spring.
Jake Knapp opened with a 6-under 65 in his first career round on the Mackenzie Tour.
The 22-year old UCLA graduate Monday qualified with a round of 68 on Monday.
Knapp qualified for the U.S. Open last year, missing the cut with rounds of 74-76.
Order of Merit leader Dan McCarthy opened with a 5-under 66, his ninth straight round under par to open the season. McCarthy has shot at least 2-under in every round so far this season and opened the year with finishes of WIN-T6.
“It’s a blast, actually. It makes it way more fun for us, traveling with guys we know. Us being together for four years, then getting to be together again is just a blast.” – Caleb Sturgeon on competing on the Mackenzie Tour with his fellow University of South Carolina teammates Matt NeSmith, Sean Kelly and Will Starke.
“Seeing Adam play as well as he did last week, we were all rooting for him. I kind of compare it to the European Ryder cup guys. Once they get together, they all just mesh. We play practice rounds together and go out for dinner, it’s awesome to see guys do well and it bumps the other guys along as well.” – Cory Renfrew on the camaraderie of his fellow British Columbian Mackenzie Tour members.
“A lot of the B.C. (British Columbia) guys are playing well right now, and when one of you best friends wins and you play a lot of practice rounds with him, have dinners and room together too, it inspires you and maybe you get a little more giddy-up in your step.” – Ryan Williams on taking motivation from Adam Cornelson’s win last week in Victoria.