OAKVILLE, Ont. — Sitting in the clubhouse at Glen Abbey Golf Course during a nearly two-hour suspension of play Ollie Schniederjans, Kevin Chappell and Matt Every all killed time in different ways. But when the thunderstorm finally passed, they put together identical 7-under 65s.
Schniederjans, Chappell and Every entered into a five-way tie with Brandon Hagy and Hudson Swafford, the clubhouse leaders from the morning group, atop a crowded leaderboard on Thursday after the first round of the RBC Canadian Open.
“I honestly struggled going back out there afterwards,” said Chappell, who was thrust to the top by a pair of eagles. “Just kind of caught myself in a little bit of a daze, maybe lacking energy. I tried to eat as much as I could and tried to just kind of pick myself up a little bit.
“That’s the hardest part about those delays.”
Every, who is paired with Chappell and Danny Lee for the first and second rounds, was happy to let his mind wander.
“I don’t know, (the break) wasn’t a big deal to me. I probably didn’t stay focused,” laughed Every, who had seven birdies and never bogeyed. “Just had a coffee and kept my body warm. That’s about it.”
Schniederjans also eagled twice and finished his round just a few minutes before play was suspended due to darkness. He was philosophical about the thunderstorm disrupting play, saying it just comes with the territory.
“You’re going to get one every now and again. Definitely changes the vibe for the day,” said Schniederjans, who three-putted on his first hole back after the delay. “Mentally, it’s tough to go two-putt a 70-footer after a delay over a giant hill. I was kind of forgiving on that, and got it back with an eagle on 18.”
Although a downpour that lasted most of the morning didn’t delay the early group, it still affected how the Jack Nicklaus-designed course played. The normally firm fairways and greens softened, letting players stick their drives and play a straight-forward game.
“Today was the most gettable I’ve seen it,” said Swafford. “You didn’t have to worry about run-outs off the tee. Balls weren’t running through the greens like they normally do.
“You didn’t have to be quite as cautious as you normally do around here. A 2 or 3 under is a really good round around here the last few years, but the mind-set is a little different today.”
Starting just four days after the Open at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England, it’s a depleted field at the Canadian Open this year. No. 2 Dustin Johnson (67) and No. 13 Adam Hadwin (75) of Abbotsford, B.C., are the highest ranked players on the FedExCup standings at the tournament.
Although a lot of players skipped the Canadian Open after the difficult major tournament, Bubba Watson insisted it wasn’t that big of an adjustment.
“We’re athletes, so it’s pretty simple. Just golf,” said Bubba Watson, who shot a 66 to sit in an 11-way tie for sixth. “You know, this is back to American golf. I know we’re in Canada, everybody, but I’m part Canadian since I married a Canadian.
“It’s no big deal. You play golf one way and then you play golf another way. You have firm conditions and you have soft conditions. So we are used to change on a quick note there.”
Mackenzie Hughes of nearby Dundas, Ont., was the low Canadian, firing a 5-under 67 in the morning to enter into a tie for 17th. Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., was 4 under, David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford were tied at 3 under. Bryn Parry of North Vancouver, B.C., was 2 under.
Amateurs Hugo Bernard of Mont-Saint Hillaire, Que., and Austin James of Bath, Ont., were at 1 under while Jared Du Toit of Kimberely, B.C., Ottawa’s Brad Fritsch, and Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., finished their rounds at even-par 72.
Toronto’s Daniel Kim was 1-over 73 and Riley Wheeldon of Comox, B.C., was 2 over.
Matt Hill of Sarnia, Ont., amateur Garrett Rank of Elmira, Ont., Drew Nesbitt of Shanty Bay, Ont., and Vancouver’s Ryan Williams had their days cut short due to darkness. They’ll finish their first rounds on Friday.