Frank Gunn Canadian Press Matt Kuchar chips to the ninth green Thursday during the first round of the Canadian Open. He is tied for second place.

Steele still finds Canada to his liking

Published: Friday, Jul. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 26, 2013 - 10:20 am

OAKVILLE, Ontario – Brendan Steele topped the Canadian Open leaderboard Thursday at 7-under-par 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 (what is the) PGA Tour Canada now. And it 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 last hole – the par-4 ninth.

"Really, just an overall good day," said Steele, who won the 2011 Texas Open for his lone PGA Tour title. "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."

Matt Kuchar, a two-time winner this year on the PGA Tour, 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.

Gardiner was tied for the lead after eagleing the par-3 15th hole, but he bogeyed the next hole.

Hunter Mahan and David Lingmerth shot 67, and Chez Reavie, the 2008 winner at Glen Abbey, was another stroke back in a group that included Bubba Watson and Trevor Immelman.

"Gave myself a lot of good looks, and the greens were rolling true," Mahan said.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 70, and Ernie Els and defending champion Scott Piercy followed at 71. Piercy won last year at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel and Canadian Mike Weir shot 73s, Dustin Johnson struggled to a 75, and Graeme McDowell had a 76.

Senior British Open in Southport, England – Gene Sauers mastered a stiff breeze to shoot a 3-under 67 for a one-stroke lead after the first round.

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, among them 2010 Senior British Open champion Bernhard Langer. The German was joined by South Africa's David Frost, Australia's Peter Senior and Frankie Minoza of the Philippines.

Only 10 of the 144 players bettered par.

Defending champion Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara, who won the 1998 British Open at Birkdale, shot 74s. Colin Montgomerie, their playing partner and a senior rookie, was two strokes better.

Langer birdied three of his last four holes. "I was very pleased with my long game, and finally the putter started working at the end," he said. Tour in Boise, Idaho – Spencer Levin of Sacramento and Erik Flores of Grass Valley shot 4-under 67s and were tied with 13 others for 29th place after the first round of the Boise Open at Hillcrest Country Club.

Hunter Haas and Steven Alker were the leaders at 9-under 62.

The Boise Open is the second of five consecutive Tour events that Levin is scheduled to play as he gears up for a full-time return to the PGA Tour when the 2013-14 season begins in October. He was forced to sit out the 2013 PGA Tour season after undergoing surgery to repair ligaments in his left thumb.

U.S. Junior Amateur in Truckee – Doug Ghim of Arlington Heights, Ill., beat Roseville's Corey Eddings 4 and 3 in the round of 16 at Martis Camp. In a second-round match earlier in the day, Eddings defeated Jooho Lee 3 and 2.

U.S. Girls' Junior Amateur in Fort Wayne, Ind. – Casie Cathrea beat defending champion Minjee Lee with a par on the 19th hole to advance to the quarterfinals. Cathrea, from Livermore, won the 18th hole with a bogey to extend the match. Cathrea defeated Jennifer Kupcho 3 and 1 in a second-round match earlier in the day.

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