NHL Player Struggles at Canadian Q-School

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Canadian Tour-LargeEUSTIS, Fla.'Danny Sahl of Edmonton, Alb. opened with a 3-under 69 Tuesday to take the early lead at the Canadian Tours Florida Winter Qualifying School.

The 25-year-old, who played the Canadian Tour in 2002, leads six players-- Glenn Collins of Winnipeg and Americans Eddie Heinen, Joe Horowitz, John Humphries, Michael McNally and Billy Zihala--by one stroke after the opening day.

Calgarys Scott McNeil and Justin Snelling of Boise, Ida. are two shots back.

Marc Savard of the Atlanta Thrashers, who is attempting to earn playing status on the Canadian Tour after the National Hockey League cancelled its 2005 season last week, fired a 6-over 78 and is tied for 35th.
 
Savard had trouble on the greens all day and could only convert one putt out of five consecutive birdie chances inside four feet on the front side.

I had it going early on, but I had a tough time coming in, said Savard, who double-bogeyed his final hole of the day. The putter just let me down today. I could have easily been 2 or 3-under, but thats the way it goes.

I think Im good for a 69 (Wednesday.)

Amateur standout Casey Wittenberg bogeyed his final two holes of the day to come in at 1-over. Wittenberg finished 13th at The Masters last spring, the best showing by an amateur in 41 years.

Once final round action has wrapped up Friday, the Canadian Tour will award exempt playing cards for the 2005 season to the low nine finishers with an additional nine players, plus ties, earning non-exempt status.

After weathering an early-morning fog delay that pushed back tee times 90 minutes, Sahl went out and tamed the 7,000-yard Black Bear Golf Club with six birdies that offset three bogeys. Playing the 537-yard, par 5 second hole, Sahl knocked his second shot to within twelve feet before two-putting for birdie.

That was a nice starting round for me, said Sahl. Give me three more like that, and Ill be all right.

Sahl was a member of Canadas Four Nations Cup squad in 2001, a team that also featured rising Canadian stars David Hearn and Jon Mills, but hasnt had much success as a pro, failing to keep his card in his 2002 rookie season. While at Kent State University, Sahl was teammates with Mills and 2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis. Two summers ago, Sahl caddied for Curtis in a handful of PGA Tour events but did not make the trip across the pond with Curtis for the Open.

I learned a lot out there watching those guys, he added. It was a great learning experience for me, and it gave me my drive back for this game. I havent been in the hunt in a while, so it feels good to get that back. I feel comfortable out on the golf course right now.

Opening round scores from the 7,000-yard, par-72 Black Bear GC (A-denotes amateur):

Danny Sahl 69
Glenn Collins 70
Eddie Heinen 70
Joe Horowitz 70
John Humphries 70
McNally. Michael 70
Billy Zihala 70
Scott McNeil 71
Justin Snelling 71
Chris Cureton 72
Brien Davis 72
Ryan Kings 72
Greg Martin 72
Jan Meierling 72
Brock Mulder 72
Gavin Ferlic 73
Chad Lydiatt 73
Mac McLeod 73
Casey Wittenberg 73
Matt Deschaine 74
Billy Dickenson 74
Pedro Park 74
Jim Seki 74
Jesse Smith 74
Jesse Hibler 75
Lynn Kilduff 75
Justin Sherriff 75
JJ Williams 75
Ian Hogg 76
Michael Hospodar 76
Yuji Makino 76
Jeffery Ryan 76
Scott Noble 77
Adrian Parker 77
Kelly Berger 78
Ron Hoenig 78
Juan Pablo Ibarreche 78
Evan Johnstone 78
Robert Kennedy 78
Michael Petrie 78
Marc (A) Savard 78
Rob Sitterley 78
Dan Cook 79
Brett Peterson 79
Scott Yopchick 79
Michael Brown 81
Bret Guetz 81
Jerry Heinz 81
Shane Tripp 84
Matt (A) Yarvi 85
Jordan Totten 94
Dan Johnson W/D