PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit leader Joel Dahmen took control of the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON yesterday by firing a 6-under 66 at Fort McMurray Golf Club to take the 36-hole lead by three shots over Vancouver’s Ryan Williams.
Dahmen, the PC Financial Open champion three weeks ago in Vancouver, rebounded from a bogey at the first hole with seven birdies, finishing at 15-under through 36 holes, three ahead of Williams.
"I've made a few putts. When you get in a groove, you just try to keep playing golf and not think about it too much,” said the Clarkston, Washington native of his red-hot play over the first two rounds. “I started to play more aggressively and the putts fell on the back nine for me."
With a win in his back pocket already this year and the chance to take a strong grip on the top spot on PGA Tour Canada’s Order of Merit, Dahmen said he would be trying to go full speed into the weekend to secure another victory. The 26-year-old is looking to build on experience from last year at the Cape Breton Celtic Classic presented by PC Financial, where he held the 36-hole lead by three before faltering on the weekend to a 7th place finish.
"There's still a lot of golf left. I did the same thing last year [in Cape Breton] and had a three-shot lead going into the weekend and it didn't pan out, so there's still a lot left. I still have to keep the pedal down and keep going,” said Dahmen.
2014 has been a breakout season for the former University of Washington Husky, who claimed two wins on the All-American Gateway Tour this winter and now finds himself in the driver’s seat on PGA Tour Canada, a position he admitted he hasn’t always felt comfortable in but now expects to see each time he tees it up. Dahmen credited a new mental approach crafted with former University of Washington assistant coach Jon Reehoorn, now the head coach at Oregon State, centered around playing aggressively regardless of his position on the leaderboard.
"We were talking about staying aggressive, and keeping the same mentality all the way through the round,” said Dahmen. “I really fought myself hard today, and I'm going to be excited when I text him and tell him that I did it. I fought myself early and I turned it around and played really well.”
With a great chance at another win this weekend, Dahmen said the confidence he gained from his win at the PC Financial Open has helped him play well this week.
“For me to actually win in Vancouver was huge. I know that I can do it, and I feel like I belong. I feel like I'm supposed to be at the top," said Dahmen.
One shot behind Williams in third was American Jeff Corr, who shot 65 to finish at 11-under. Two shots behind Corr were Montreal’s Beon-Yeong Lee of the U.S., Sean Shahi and Monday qualifier Kevin Spooner of West Vancouver.
WILLIAMS’ NEW STRATEGY VAULTS HIM INTO THE HUNT
After missing the cut in his first three starts at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON dating back to 2012, Ryan Williams tried a different strategy this week in Fort McMurray, playing just nine holes of a practice round and taking the driver out of his bag on the tree-lined Fort McMurray Golf and Country Club.
"I just felt that I was only going to hit [driver] once or twice out there, and I came in with pretty much no expectations. Sometimes that works better than coming out here and trying too hard," said Williams.
The 33-year-old finds himself in the hunt for the first time since last year’s Cape Breton Celtic Classic presented by PC Financial, when he finished second to Order of Merit winner Mackenzie Hughes, and said he hoped the experience would help him on the weekend.
“This is what you play for,” said Williams. “You want to be up near the lead heading into the weekend.”
DEFENDING CHAMP BOUNCES BACK WITH 64
When Riley Wheeldon won last year’s Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON, he did so despite a quadruple bogey nine on the scorecard in a second round 75. So when Wheeldon struggled to a 73 in round one this year, he knew not to think he was out of the tournament just yet.
“Having the 9 on the card and the 75 last year kind of made the 73 yesterday a little bit easier knowing that it’s still possible, and that I just needed to play well the next three days,” said Wheeldon.
He bounced back in a big way on Friday, carding a bogey-free 64 to jump 67 spots into a tie for 13th.
“I’m still going to need to play really well because the leaders aren’t backing up,” said Wheeldon. “It’s going to be a birdie fest as long as the weather stays like this.”
- Daniel McCarthy of the U.S. chipped in for birdie at the 18th hole to shoot a 10-under 62, the new course record at Fort McMurray Golf Club. McCarthy started the day tied for 117th after a first round 75, and moved up 104 spots to T-13.
- Golf Canada National Amateur Team players Adam Svensson (T-33) and Corey Conners (T-58) both made the cut.
- Players who have made the cut in all three PGA TOUR Canada events this season: Joel Dahmen, Sean Shahi, Tim Madigan, Riley Wheeldon, Greg Eason, Michael Gligic, Chris Williams, John Catlin, Josh Persons, Chris Ross, Ryan Brehm, Bo Hoag and Clark Klaasen.
- Fort McMurray native Stuart Anderson shot an even par 72 to make the cut at 3-under.
- The cut came at 2-under par, with 71 players at T-58 or better making it to the weekend.
Syncrude Boreal Open first round report (June 20)
PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit leader Joel Dahmen tied the course record at Fort McMurray Golf Club Thursday, carding a 9-under 63 to take the first round lead at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON.
The Amercian., who claimed the PC Financial Open three weeks ago for his first PGA Tour Canada win, made 10 birdies and one bogey to lead by two shots over fellow American Evan Harmeling.
"I actually only made one putt outside of 12 feet, so I hit it really close all day,” said Dahmen. “My wedges were on fire.”
The 26-year-old comes to Fort McMurray a year after sharing the 54-hole lead at the 2013 Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON, and while he was only able to muster a 1-under 71 and a tie for fourth last year, Dahmen said he was comfortable thanks to his experience last year.
"I played really aggressively off the tee today,” said Dahmen. "There are some lines off the tee I can be more aggressive on because I’m more comfortable out here, and I hit it really well, so that helps a lot."
With a win at the start of the 2014 season, Dahmen said he felt comfortable taking more risk in his on-course strategy to try and secure another strong finish to solidify his place atop the Order of Merit.
"I'm playing well and I'm hitting it well, so that helps me to play aggressively, but knowing I had a little head start and a win in the back pocket definitely frees me up a lot," said Dahmen.
Two shots behind Dahmen, Harmeling said a solid day on the greens propelled him to his opening round of 65, his lowest career round on PGA Tour Canada.
"I came out here and made everything and kind of continued it on today,” said Harmeling. “I thought they were rolling true. I'm really happy with how I played. I putted really well out there.”
Another shot behind Harmeling were California’s Daniel Miernicki, who held the lead for much of the day by carding the low round of the morning wave, and Sarnia, Ontario’s Matt Hill, who birdied his final three holes for a 6-under 66.
HILL MAKES MOST OF RETURN WITH OPENING 66
Two years ago at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON, Sarnia native Matt Hill was in the middle of a torrid run that drove him to an Order of Merit title. The former Jack Nicklaus Award winner at NC State University wound up losing in a playoff to Cory Renfrew, then won the following week at the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel to cement his top spot, eventually earning a spot on the Web.com Tour for 2013.
Playing this week on a sponsor’s exemption, Hill finds himself in a different situation with a chance to play his way up the conditional member ranking with a solid finish this week. The 25-year old said he was simply focusing on playing good golf, however, and avoiding any distractions.
“I’m not really looking at what everything means. I’m just out trying to have some fun and play golf,” said Hill. “I know I can win out here, and that’s my goal. I try to prepare as well as I can and just try to play smart golf and hit fairways and greens.”
PGA Tour Canada