Paul McConnell leads at SIGA Dakota Dunes Open

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Round 1 – SIGA Dakota Dunes Open

 (Whitecap, Sask.) – Allen, Texas’ Paul McConnell shot an 8-under 64 on Thursday at Dakota Dunes Golf Links to take the first round lead at the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open, the fourth event of the 2016 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season.

The 25-year old managed seven birdies, an eagle and a bogey on day one to lead by two over Chilliwack, British Columbia’s Brad Clapp and Sea Island, Georgia’s Bobby Wyatt through one round at Dakota Dunes.

“I focused on one hole at a time and tried to make birdies, and had a lucky eagle on two, which is great. It was just fun and I was having a good time,” said McConnell.

The second year Mackenzie Tour member is coming off a 2015 campaign that saw him retain exempt status by finishing inside the top 60 on the Order of Merit, as well as an off-season where he Monday qualified for two different PGA TOUR events, two accomplishments the University of Texas-Arlington graduate said were more than a coincidence.

“This is a good proving ground to get to the next level, and last year playing the Mackenzie Tour allowed me to play well for the qualifiers on the PGA TOUR and get some good experience,” said McConnell.

Two shots behind McConnell were Wyatt and Clapp, who carded his best career round in his third start at Dakota Dunes.

“I stayed out of trouble for sure and didn’t feel much stress today. I had a couple of tough chips coming in, but I hit a lot of greens and never really got myself out of position,” said Clapp.

13 players were tied for fourth at 5-under after day one.

First Round Leaderboard (Bold denotes Canadian):

Paul McConnell – 64 (-8)

Brad Clapp – 66 (-6)

Bobby Wyatt – 66 (-6)

NOTES

Paul McConnell

Paul McConnell is making his 15th career start on the Mackenzie Tour. In 2015 he earned status at Q-School and went on to finish 59th on the Order of Merit to retain exempt status for 2016.

McConnell Monday Qualified for two PGA TOUR events this winter at the Shell Houston Open and Valero Texas Open.

McConnell’s 64 marks his lowest round on the Mackenzie Tour, besting a previous low of 66 (four times).

Bobby Wyatt

Bobby Wyatt is making his first career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. The former University of Alabama standout earned exempt status through the first four events of the year with a T9 finish at Q-School earlier this year.

Wyatt finished fourth at the PGA TOUR’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans earlier this year on a sponsor exemption.

In 2010, Wyatt shot a 14-under 57 at the Alabama Boys’ State Championship.

Brad Clapp

Brad Clapp carded seven birdies and one bogey on Thursday for a 6-under 66, his career low round at Dakota Dunes.

Thursday marks the ninth straight round after which a native of British Columbia has been inside the top five.

Chris Ross

In support of the Graham and Ruby DeLaet Foundation, Chris Ross is donating $5 per birdie and $10 per eagle to charity this week. Ross made seven birdies and an eagle for $45. This SIGA Dakota Dunes Open ft. Graham Slam is raising funds for charities supporting children’s health through Saskatchewan this week.

QUOTABLES:

“It’s been like that since Point Grey. It seems like one of us is going to be in contention, even though we’d love it to be all five or six of us. It just shows that when you play around better players, you’re going to elevate your game week in and week out.” – Brad Clapp on the large number of British Columbians contending on the Mackenzie Tour this season.

“I was really excited when I got status on this Tour. I thought I knew where I was going to play all summer, and it was going to be fun. I’m certainly not complaining with how things have shaken out, but it is a little frustrating sometimes when you don’t really know where you’re going to be, but you know if you play good golf you’re going to see moving up.” – Bobby Wyatt on playing on different Tours and not knowing where he’ll play week-to-week.

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