After sunny and warm conditions hung around South Carolina for most of the week, the mercury plummeted to around the freezing point with a constant downpour for the first round at the Barefoot Resort's Tom Fazio course. But Levesque used a hot putter and a strong all-around game to grab a share of the clubhouse lead with a 4-under-par 67 on the 6834-yard, par-71 layout. Kevin Altenhof (Melbourne, FL) and Craig Matthew (Ile Bizard, QC) are also at 4-under. Matthew only squeezed in 15 holes Thursday before play was halted because of darkness and will complete his first round, along with 41 others, Friday morning beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Afterwards, Levesque shook his head when asked how much the weather affected his game.
'It was tough out there, but I'm from Quebec-I've played in worse weather than this,' said the 26-year-old. 'The toughest part of a day like today is trying to keep your hands warm. You always have to be moving.'
With heavy rains welcoming the morning draw golfers, Levesque fired an even-par 35 front nine before catching fire over the final holes, burying birdies on 12, 15, 16 and 17 before notching a par to end his day. On the 533-yard, par-5 12th, Levesque flirted with danger when his second shot found its way into a greenside bunker. But after blasting his way out to within 20 feet of the cup, the 5'8, 150-pounder sank the lengthy birdie putt.
'Once the rains let up (early in the back nine), my grips dried up and it was easier hanging onto the club,' added the Canadian Tour rookie, who qualified at last fall's Q-school. 'The condition of this course is perfect, it is built for my kind of game.'
As the only Canadian to receive an exempt-status card at last week's McDonald's Winter Qualifying School, Matthew was asked what he was thinking about in the miserable conditions.
'I was basically just trying to figure out how to stay alive,' he laughed. 'It was very difficult out there, but anytime you play well you have to be pleased.'
A trio of players withdrew from the tournament prior to the opening round. Bobby Kalinowski (Scottsdale, AZ), Roger Tambellini (Templeton, CA) and Joseph McCormick (La Quinta, CA) pulled out, allowing Adam Short (Vineland, ON), Jerome Blais (Sherbrooke, QC) and Eamonn Brady (Ireland) a spot in the starting field.