PGA TOUR Canada – 19 players with two shots of lead after 18 holes
First round Leaderboard – ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS
(Bold denotes Canadian)
T-1. Max Scodro – 66 (-6)
T-1. Chris Epperson – 66 (-6)
T-3. George Bradford – 67 (-5)
T-3. Wil Collins – 67 (-5)
T-3. Andrew Georgiou – 67 (-5)
T-3. Matt Makinson – 67 (-5)
T-3. Mark Hubbard – 67 (-5)
(August 6, 2013 – Calgary, AB) – Chris Epperson of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and Max Scodro of Chicago, Illinois shot a pair of 6-under 66s at Country Hills Golf Club on Tuesday to share the lead after the first round of the ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS.
Epperson made seven birdies and a bogey while Scodro made five birdies, an eagle and a bogey on the Talons Course layout at Country Hills to sit one shot ahead of six players at 5-under, including George Bradford, Andrew Georgiou, Jeff Rangel, Mark Hubbard, Matt Makinson and Wil Collins.
“I got off to a really good start, which was nice. I haven’t done that all year,” said Scodro, a 23-year old from the University of Notre Dame. “I just kind of kept it in front of me. I think the birdies are out there, and as long as you can limit your mistakes you’ll be able to shoot a good round.”
Scodro also holds membership on the NEC Series – PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, and said some recent down time from tournament play helped him re-charge heading into this week’s event.
“These last two weeks were really helpful for me,” said Scodro. “I was able to put in some work on a few things I was working on, and came into this week with some good feelings. I was excited to get back out here because I liked it when we played it a couple of months ago.”
Epperson, meanwhile, made the switch from a belly putter to a short putter and said the difference helped him find success on the putting surfaces.
“Last week was the first tournament that I used a short putter in over a year,” said the 30-year old Epperson. “I went back to the way I putted when I had my Web.com Tour card (in 2011 and 2012) and opened up my stance. It felt a little more comfortable, and darned if I didn’t make a few putts.”
Epperson opened the season with top-10 finishes at the Times Colonist Island Savings Open and Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel, and said he hopes to continue the good play this week in Calgary.
“I really, really like this course,” said Epperson. “If I can keep doing what I’ve been doing what I did today, I’ll have a good week.”
Collins, the Order of Merit no. 2 and Andrew Georgiou, were part of the group at 5-under par 67 and both played in the RBC Canadian Open two weeks ago.
Bradford looking to re-spark season in Calgary
It was just over five years ago in Southern Alberta that PGA TOUR Canada veteran George Bradford had his best finish on PGA TOUR Canada, shooting a final round 63 before losing in a playoff to Dustin Risdon at the 2008 ATB Financial Classic in nearby De Winton, Alberta. It was one of three runner-up finishes for Bradford that year, and the 38-year old is hoping a return to Calgary will help regain the form that saw him finish a career-best fifth on the Order of Merit.
“I’ve been playing well all year, and it was just a matter of time before I was able to do that in a tournament,” said Bradford after opening with a 5-under par 67 to sit tied for third. “I know my ability and I believe that I should be a winner out here, and I believe I’m in the position that I should be. I’m comfortable.”
Bradford has not posted a top-10 since that season in 2008. His best finish this season is a tie for 15th at the Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel, and his 67 was his fourth round in the 60s this year.
Sainz, Jr. stays hot
Fresh off his first PGA TOUR Canada victory at The Players Cup, Carlos Sainz, Jr. kept the good play rolling on Tuesday with a 4-under par 68, opening with three straight birdies and sitting tied for ninth. Sainz, Jr. also lost in a playoff the following week at the Illinois Open, and said the added confidence of getting his first win has changed his outlook.
“Knowing you can win at this level is big,” said Sainz, Jr.” I’ve been out here a couple of years trying to win, and been in contention a couple of times. It changes your confidence a little bit. When you’re hot, you get going and try to keep it going.”
– Weather: Sunny in the morning leading to overcast skies in the afternoon, 18 degrees Celsius, wind 21 km/h
– Josh Creel recorded the fifth hole-in-one of the season, carding an ace from 215 yards with a five iron on the par-3 14th
– Defending champion Michael Gligic and Country Hills head professional Brett Burgeson opened with 3-under par 68s to sit tied for 20th
– Creel and Scodro’s 66 represents the highest first round lead of the season, but is also the new course record at the Talons Course, breaking Mike Belbin’s round of 67 from 2010
– 16-year old amateur Patrick Murphy of Crossfield, Alberta, the youngest player in the field, opened with a 4-under par 68
– Coquitlam, British Columbia’s Matt Makinson opened with a double bogey before carding seven birdies for a 5-under par 67