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Kanada the Pacesetter in Texas

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Canadian Tour-LargeAUSTIN, Texas -- Texan Craig Kanada opened with a 7-under 63 Thursday to set the early pace at the Canadian Tours season-opening Yes! Golf Barton Creek Classic presented by BG Products.

Kanada is in the clubhouse with a one-shot lead on fellow American Scott Ford while three-time champion Rob Johnson is two back. Seven others, including Canadians Rob McMillan, Philip Jonas, Craig Matthew, Scott McNeil and Chris Baryla, are minus-4.

Austin native and PGA Tour regular Omar Uresti, who won the Barton Creek Challenge last year playing on a sponsors exemption, is also 4-under.

Using a Pro-Am format, the season-opener is being held at the par-72 Fazio Canyons and par-70 Crenshaw Cliffside courses at Barton Creek Resort and Spa. After each competitor has played both layouts, the professional field will be cut to the low 60 players plus ties Friday. Those players will compete for the $100,000 purse on the weekend, with the final two rounds to be played at the Crenshaw course.

The low 15 pro-am teams, plus ties, will also make the cut, although the final round of the pro-am will be held Saturday.

Ford, the grandson of 1957 Masters champion Doug Ford, won the 2001 CanAm Days Championship and has Nationwide Tour status this year.

McMillan has also won three times on the Canadian Tour, while Jonas won the 2000 QuebecTel Open.

Jim Rutledge of Victoria, who is coming off a win at the Nationwide Tours ING New Zealand Championship last weekend, opened with a 67 on the Crenshaw course.

Ford and Kanada both played the Crenshaw course Thursday, a track that produced the lowest scores of the day.

With no wind and mild temperatures greeting players on the opening day, Kanada capitalized on his lead-group tee time, going 4-under on his front nine.

On the par-4 second, a hole that normally plays as a par-5, Kanada hit his approach from 175-yards to within ten feet before making the birdie putt. With close friend Bud Baker as his amateur partner, Kanada put up eight birdies and a bogey on his scorecard.

It was great to get out early this morning, said Kanada. Conditions were perfect for scoring, and I took advantage of it. It never hurts to have a good start, so Ill take it.

The former PGA and Nationwide Tour member had his best Tour finish here in 2003, finishing second to Swedens Anders Hultman.

I like this place, and especially this golf course, Kanada said when asked about Barton Creeks four championship courses. I was really comfortable out there. I was never in any real trouble. It wasnt a very stressful day.

Kanada doesnt think the two-course setup will throw him off Friday. Knowing he'll be in tough to match his performance on a more demanding course has him approaching the second round in a relaxed frame of mind.

I think it is easier playing on two golf courses. Tomorrow I will go out and play a tougher course, so I dont feel I have to try to back up a 63. With conditions like today, I could almost fire at every pin and try to make birdies. It will be different tomorrow.

Defending champion Scott Gibson, who won this event by nine shots in 2005, opened with a 3-over 73 at Crenshaw.

The Barton Creek Classic is the first of two consecutive tournaments at the resort. The Yes! Golf Barton Creek Challenge will be held next week.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Barton Creek Classic
  • Full Coverage - Barton Creek Classic