The 26-year-old Welder, beginning his round from the tenth tee, birdied his first and final holes of the day at Point Grey Golf and Country Club while managing another six in between en route to a 6-under-par 66. Welder is tied with defending Order of Merit champion Steve Alker (New Zealand) and Roger Tambellini (Templeton, CA) for top spot. Doug McGuigan (Langley, BC), Todd Pence (Cheney, WA), Patrick Moore (Cornelius, NC) and Mario Tiziani (St. Paul, MN) are one shot off the pace.
Now into his third season on the Canadian Tour, Welder, whose best finish was a tie for 14th at this event a year ago, credited his play to his newfound concentration on the course.
I feel like I am a lot more focused right now, I am committed to every shot and am quite comfortable out there, he said. I felt I did everything wellI hit the ball solid and the putts fell for me most of the day.
Welder saved his best for last Thursday on the 393-yard, par-4 9th hole. After an errant tee shot wound up behind a tree, he punched a 5-iron to within ten feet of the green and then closed out his day with a chip that found the cup.
The way I ended the round just gives me confidence heading into Friday. I think I can handle the pressure that will be on me...there are a lot of great players here and I need to remember there are still three rounds to go. But I figure if I can shoot a 66 today, there is no reason I cant do it again tomorrow.
The TELUS Vancouver Open is the second consecutive stop in B.C., coming on the heels of last weeks Shell Payless Open in Victoria, which was won by New Zealands Paul Devenport.