OAKVILLE, Ontario — Brendan Steele topped the Canadian Open leaderboard Thursday at 7-under 65, birdieing five of the first seven holes on his back nine at Glen Abbey.
“I love being up here,” Steele said. “I played in ’06 and ’07 on PGA Tour Canada now. And really, got me ready to play the Nationwide Tour, which I played in ’08, ’09 and ’10. It was a great progression in my life. I had a great time up here. Made a lot of friends and spent two summers traveling the country.”
The 30-year-old American had eight birdies and a bogey, dropping a shot on his final hole — the par-4 ninth. He won the 2011 Texas Open for his lone PGA Tour title.
“Really, just an overall good day,” Steele said. “Hit a lot of good shots and was able to hole some putts. When you have a good round like that and you play that well, you kind of have everything going. But today was probably the most complete round that I’ve had all year, so that was kind of nice. Didn’t miss many greens, didn’t hit many shots off line, and I was able to roll a few putts in.”
Matt Kuchar, a two-time winner this year, was a stroke back along with Scott Gardiner and Scott Brown. Kuchar eagled the par-5 18th hole, his ninth hole of the day.
“It was fun to be out here. It was perfect conditions,” Kuchar said. “I feel like last week, conditions were so challenging and so difficult at the British Open, to come here and to play golf that is more friendly and more what we’re used to the PGA Tour was great.”
Former University High golfer Patrick Reed is in a nine-way tie for seventh and is three strokes back after a 4-under 68.
Sauers leads Senior British Open after 1st round: In Southport, England, Gene Sauers mastered a stiff breeze to shoot a 3-under 67 Thursday for a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Senior British Open.
The 50-year-old American had all pars on the front nine for a 34 at sunny Royal Birkdale. He then birdied the 10th and bogeyed the 11th. His three successive birdies from the 15th left him at 33 for the back nine.
“I hit a lot of solid shots in the wind, so it didn’t really mess with me too much,” Sauers said. “I’m really pleased with the way I played.”
Four players were at 68, Bernhard Langer, David Frost, Peter Senior and Frankie Minoza. Only 10 of the 144 players bettered par. At 69 were Corey Pavin, Gary Hallberg, John Cook, Jeff Hart and Peter Fowler.
Dyson, Karlberg, Liang lead at Russian Open: In Moscow, Simon Dyson shot a 5-under 67 Thursday to share the lead on the opening day of the Russian Open.
Dyson is tied with Rikard Karlberg and Liang Wen-chong.
Karlberg bogeyed the opening two holes but recovered with five birdies and an eagle on the long eighth. Liang, whose only European Tour title came six years ago, bogeyed the 12th but had six birdies.
Matthew Baldwin, James Morrison, Alessandro Tadini and Javier Colomo were one stroke behind.