Mark Hanson of Maple Grove, MN, drained six birdies on the opening 13 holes en route to a 5-under-par 67 to grab a share of the lead at the McDonald's Winter Qualifying School being staged at the Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Also firing a first-round 67 were ex-Canadian Tour member Conrad Ray (Hilton Head, SC) and Lewis Chitengwa (Nashville, TN). Craig Matthew of Montreal was the top Canadian with a 70, while former NHL goaltender Grant Fuhr, arguably the most closely followed golfer at Q-school, carded a 75.
Despite a constant downpour that drenched most of South Carolina Monday, Hanson maintained Barefoot was in excellent playing shape.
'Even though there were a couple of wet spots, the course really came through after (Monday)', he said. 'I felt comfortable out there today for the most part, especially since I played terrible in the practice rounds.'
Hopefuls aiming for one of a minimum twenty cards on this year's Canadian Tour will each play the Greg Norman, Tom Fazio and Davis Love III courses at Barefoot through Thursday. The low sixty scores plus ties will advance to Friday's final qualifying round on the par-72 Love course. More than 170 golfers from nine countries have descended on Barefoot in the hopes of making the cut.The first four official Tour events will follow at the Barefoot Resort.
'I managed my game pretty well today, and I was hitting the ball solid,' said Ray, who admitted to having a hard time in PGA Tour qualifying last fall. 'My game is getting close to where I want it to be. I just need to carry that over the next few days.'
Now in his fifth year of trying to make the Canadian Tour, Fuhr was pleased with his round but conceded that a couple of mistakes hurt him.
'That's the way this game is, one bad shot can turn a birdie into a bogey. But we're still in the hunt, we'll come back (Tuesday) and try again.'