Hansen Holds Lead in Edmonton

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Canadian Tour-LargeEDMONTON, Alta.-- American Matt Hansen carded a 7-under 64 Thursday to set the early pace at the Canadian Tours TELUS Edmonton Open.
 
Playing in the lead group of the day, Hansen came up one shot shy of the Edmonton Country Club course record and leads Marcus Jones of Graham, Tex. and Albertans Mike Belbin and Scott McNeil by one stroke.
 
Four others, including Ottawa-born Scott Hawley, opened with a 66 while nine players are in a logjam at minus-4.
 
National Hockey League Hall of Fame goaltender and Edmonton fan favourite Grant Fuhr, playing this week on a sponsors exemption, was 3-under through eight holes but struggled on the inbound nine to post 72.
 
Belbin, a former Tour member from the Edmonton suburb of Sherwood Park, also received an exemption into the event.
 
With the par-3 ninth as his finishing hole, Hansen climbed into sole possession of top spot by sticking his tee shot within a foot for a tap-in birdie. The 25-year-old, now into his second season on the Canadian Tour, has made five of six cuts this year prior to this week.
 
It was nice to knock it in there close and finish with a birdie, he said. Our group (with Bret Guetz and Luke Hickmott) had a great rhythm going out there and the pace of play was awesome.
 
Coming off a tie for 21st at the Times Colonist Open in Victoria, Hawley aced the 145-yard, par-3 13th to get to 4-under. The hole-in-one continued an impressive run for Hawley, who has marked a 1 on his scorecard three times in his last nine starts dating back to the 2004 season-ending Bay Mills Open Players Championship.
 
In Victoria two weeks ago, Hawley was right in contention before a final-round 2-over 72 dropped him out of the top ten.
 
It was a disappointing finish in Victoria, and a couple of years ago it really would have bothered me, admitted Hawley. Ive been playing some good golf but not getting anything out of it.
 
Hansen was cautious about his opening round and knows there is still plenty of work to do. Conditions were ideal for the morning wave Thursday and Hansen says if the weatherman continues to cooperate, scores at The Country Club will be low.
 
Ive been hitting it well all year, but Id have two good rounds and then have a bad weekend, he said. This was very important, to get that start. If you shoot even par on a day like today, you are really going to have to do some damage over the last three days to have a shot.
 
Jones, who had a season-best 12th-place finish in Victoria, put up eight birdies and a pair of bogeys for his best round of the year.
 
I missed some putts, but made a couple of 20-footers, said Jones. Im glad for the start, but with no wind and the players out here, a good score is very possible. Two little glitches kept me from shooting something really special.
 
Standing on the 12th tee Thursday, caddy Jason Heary turned to Hawley and asked him how many holes-in-one he had as a professional. Hawley replied that both of his aces came in the past ten months. On the very next hole, just after knocking a lofty 9-iron into the cup, Hawley turned to Heary and said,
 
Make that three.
 
Related Links:
  • Scoring - TELUS Edmonton Open
  • Full Coverage - TELUS Edmonton Open