Both players opened with a 6-under 65 at Pine Ridge GC, one shot better than Bobby Kalinowski of Scottsdale, AZ. Six others, including Kent Fukushima (Grande Prairie, AB), Chad Belbin (Kamloops, BC), Todd Doohan (Sarnia, ON) and Winnipegs Dean North, are at 4-under 67 after one day.
Sitting at 5-under playing his 16th hole Thursday, McKenzie made a clutch up-and-down for par before draining a birdie putt on his final hole to wind up tied atop the leaderboard.
I didnt really hit it into trouble all day, and that gave me a chance for birdie on a lot of holes, said McKenzie. The conditions were ideal out there- if you didnt get to 4 or 5-under, you knew you left some shots on the course. So Im happy with the start. Why go chasing someone when you can be standing with them?
McKenzie is hoping to follow in the recent footsteps of fellow Australian Ben Ferguson. In 2000, after spending the year before on the Buy.com Tour, Ferguson not only won the MTS Classic, but also went on to get his PGA Tour a few months later. McKenzie played the Buy.com Tour a year ago, and is poised to be around come Sunday afternoon.
If you look at what Ben did, hopefully it will all be a good omen, added McKenzie, who is looking to for his first Tour win after five top-ten showings this year. It seems like every time I am in the hunt, guys keep beating me or I beat myself. But if I can keep getting into the top five often enough, eventually Ill get there.
Sutterfield, who played on the PGA Tour back in 1997, ran into a little good fortune on the par-4 11th. After hitting left into the trees, the 33-year-old hit a provisional ball before beginning the search for his original tee shot. Just as the five-minute search time limit was about to wind up, Sutterfield was getting set to hit his provisional when a spotter found his ball in the rough. He then chipped out and saved par.
I got a big break there, I went from possibly making triple-bogey to par, he added. I seemed to get more relaxed after that. I was actually wondering if it was possible to get a flight out of Winnipeg Friday night. It was frustrating when I hit that shot, and the way it has gone for me the last few weeks, those things can snowball.
Playing in the lead group of the day, Kalinowski got off to a quick start with 4-under 32 on the front nine, including a birdie on the par-3 ninth. Playing 232 yards onto a dome-shaped green, most golfers are more than satisfied with par on Pine Ridges signature hole- in fact, in the 90-year history of the course, there have been just ten holes-in-one on number nine. A plaque hanging in a hallway at Pine Ridge reads the hole is nationally recognized as one Canadas 18 most difficult holes.
On any Tour Ive played, that is without question the toughest par-3 I have ever seen, said Kalinowski, whose other stints have included time on the Asian PGA and Buy.com Tours. So a birdie there gave me a big lift heading to the back nine. A quick start is key with these guys. If you have a rough start, youll be out of the golf tournament in a hurry.
Full field scores from the MTS Classic