By PGATOUR.COM wire services
OAKVILLE, Ontario -- Brendan Steele topped the RBC Canadian Open leaderboard Thursday with a 7-under 65, starting with birdies on five of his first seven holes at Glen Abbey.
"I love being up here," Steele said. "I played in `06 and `07 on PGA TOUR Canada. And really, got me ready to play the (Web.com) Tour, which I played in `08, `09 and `10. It was a great progression in my life. I had a great time up here. Made a lot of friends and spent two summers traveling the country."
The 30-year-old American had eight birdies and a bogey, dropping a shot on his final hole -- the par-4 ninth. He won the 2011 Valero Texas Open for his only PGA TOUR title.
Steele ranks 97th in FedExCup points, so a big week would go a long way in securing a spot in the FedExCup Playoffs.
"Really, just an overall good day," Steele said. "Hit a lot of good shots and was able to hole some putts. When you have a good round like that and you play that well, you kind of have everything going. But today was probably the most complete round that I've had all year, so that was kind of nice. Didn't miss many greens, didn't hit many shots off line, and I was able to roll a few putts in."
Matt Kuchar, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR this year, was a stroke back along with Scott Gardiner and Scott Brown. Kuchar eagled the par-5 18th hole, his ninth hole of the day.
"It was fun to be out here. It was perfect conditions," Kuchar said. "I feel like last week, conditions were so challenging and so difficult at the British Open, to come here and to play golf that is more friendly and more what we're used to the PGA TOUR was great.
"The conditions are spectacular. The course is in great shape. We had very little wind, good temperature, so it was a great opportunity. The par 5s are all attainable and birdieable."
Hunter Mahan and David Lingmerth shot 67, and Chez Reavie, the 2008 winner at Glen Abbey, was another stroke back in a group that included Bubba Watson and Trevor Immelman.
"Gave myself a lot of good looks and the greens were rolling true," Mahan said. "It's in great shape right now. In the morning, we'll have perfect conditions."
Brandt Snedeker opened with a 70, and Ernie Els and defending champion Scott Piercy carded a 71. Piercy won last year at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.
Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel and Canadian Mike Weir shot 73, Dustin Johnson struggled to a 75, and Graeme McDowell had a 76.
Brad Fritsch was the top Canadian at 69. David Hearn, a playoff loser this month in the John Deere Classic, followed at 70.
Pat Fletcher, born in England, was the last Canadian winner, taking the 1954 event at Point Grey in Vancouver. Carl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914. Albert Murray, a Canadian also born in England, won in 1908 and 1913.
Fritsch birdied his final three holes.
"I think I hit less than 50 percent of the fairways, but I think that's just the nature of this golf course," Fritsch said. "I looked like I got some horrendous bounces. When I was expecting one way, it went the other, and that led to a little bit of frustration. But I stayed patient."
RBC Canadian Open
POS PLAYER ROUND THRU TOTAL
1 Brendan Steele -- -- -7
T2 Scott Brown -- -- -6
T2 Matt Kuchar -- -- -6
T2 Scott Gardiner -- -- -6
T5 Andres Romero -2 9* -5
Staff 5 hrs ago
Making just his second start at the RBC Canadian Open, Brendan Steele opened with a 7-under 65, one stroke shy of his career low. In relation to par, the score ties his best. Before today, his best opening score on the PGA TOUR was a 66 (three times).
In his only other start in the event, Steele missed the cut in 2011 at Shaughnessy G&CC following rounds of 76-72. Steele is making his 21st start of this season, one in which he’s managed just one top-10 finish, a T6 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in his third start of 2013.
From May through mid-June, he suffered through six consecutive missed cuts. Since then, he has posted a T13 at the Travelers Championship and a T16 a week later at the AT&T National. He missed the cut in his most recent start before this week at the John Deere Classic.
Steele comes to Canada in search of his second career victory after having won the 2011 Valero Texas Open. Steele is making his 72nd career PGA TOUR start this week, and comes into the week ranked 97th in FedExCup standings. Steele’s only previous first-round lead came at the 2011 Frys.com Open. He finished T11.
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July.26 2013 By Staff and wire reports
By Reuters 14 hours ago
(Reuters) - Frustrated after a wasted opportunity to win last week's British Open, Tiger Woods will be back in PGA Tour action for next week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at one of his favorite venues as he hunts a fifth victory this year.
American Woods has triumphed a record seven times at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio where he will also be looking to build momentum for the season's final major, the PGA Championship to be played the following week.
"This is one of my favorite courses," world number one Woods said on his website (http://web.tigerwoods.com/) about the tree-lined venue for the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event.
"There is nothing tricky about it; everything is right in front of you. And the fans do a great job of supporting the event."
Woods will aim to return to the PGA Tour winner's circle, having tied for sixth in last week's British Open at Muirfield in Scotland where his bid for a 15th major title unraveled in the final round as he closed with a three-over-par 74.
He was happy with his overall game at Muirfield, though he struggled with his putting, especially in the final round.
"The whole week, I really hit so many good shots and really had control of my ball," the 37-year-old told reporters. "The frustrating part is I didn't get the (putting) speed.
"I'm very pleased with the way I'm playing, there's no doubt. I'm right there. We have the World Golf Championship here at (Firestone) a golf course I like, and I've had a little bit of success on it. I'm looking forward to that."
Woods has not won a major title since his remarkable playoff victory at the 2008 U.S. Open where he was severely hampered by a double stress fracture in his left shinbone.
However, he has displayed excellent form on the PGA Tour this year, winning four times in just 10 starts, and ranks first in FedExCup points, money earnings and scoring.
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played from August 1-4.