GOMEZ SHOOTS 63 FOR FIRST ROUND LEAD AT THE GREAT WATERWAY CLASSIC
- NEW COURSE RECORD GIVES 45-YEAR OLD ONE-STROKE LEAD -
(September 6, 2012 - Gananoque, ON) - Jaime Gomez of McAllen, Texas birdied his first four holes and two of his last three for a course record 63 at Smuggler's Glen Golf Course Thursday, good for a one shot lead after the first round of the inaugural playing of The Great Waterway Classic.
The 45-year old, who has over 30 pro victories to his credit, rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole (his 18th) to post 63, good for a one-stroke advantage over David Dragoo, who played in the same group and shot 64.
"I was just trying to be patient out there and give myself some looks, and things worked out nice today," said Gomez, who is 5/5 in made cuts on the Canadian Tour in 2012.
Gomez said the strong back-nine play of Dragoo encouraged him to keep pushing for more birdies.
"David got on a good run and started making some birdies. That really pulled me along," said Gomez. "As he kept going along, I kept grinding it out and a few more putts dropped.
Starting on the 10th hole, Gomez made birdie on his first four holes and five of his first six, offsetting a lone bogey with nine total birdies on the day. The final birdie on the ninth hole set a new course record, one shot ahead of the 64 Dragoo tapped in for just moments before.
"I didn't realize that putt was for the course record," said Gomez. "I just kept the momentum going that I picked up from the front nine."
Dragoo, meanwhile, caught fire on the back nine, making four birdies in a five hole stretch that included two chip-ins and a long putt from off the green on the seventh to post 64. The 26-year old from Carefree, Arizona comes into the week having made four consecutive cuts, including a T-8 and T-11 in his last two starts.
"It was an easy day for me, getting to watch Jaime birdie his first four," said Dragoo. "It got me into a good rhythm and it felt easy from there."
One shot behind Dragoo was Canadian Tour rookie Mark Hoffman, whose incredible eagle-eagle finish on 17 and 18 gave him a six-under 65.
After missing a short par putt on 16, Hoffman didn't have to use the flatstick again - he chipped in from 20 yards on the short par-4 17th, then holed a wedge from 135 yards on the 18th to post 65, his best round of the year on Tour.
"It was a nice way to finish," said Hoffman, who had another eagle on the fourth hole to total three on the day. "Not having to use the putter on the last two holes is never a bad thing."
Tied with Hoffman was Longwood, Florida's Tyler Harris, who made three straight birdies on the back nine for a bogey-free 65, and Elgin, Illinois' Carlos Sainz, Jr. Another shot back at five-under 66 was a group of three players including Adam Cornelson, Joe Panzeri and Patrick Scheil.
North Vancouver, BC's Eugene Wong - arguably the hottest player in Canadian Golf after his dramatic Canadian Tour Championship win and a victory at last week's Vancouver Open on the Vancouver Golf Tour - opened with a four-under 67 to sit tie for ninth in a group that included Canadian Tour veterans Derek Gillespie and Wes Heffernan among others.
Order of Merit leader Matt Hill opened with an even-par 71, one shot back of second-place Michael Gligic and third-place Cory Renfrew. The top two on the Order of Merit after this week will receive an exemption into the second stage of PGA TOUR Q-School. Hill currently holds a lead of $5,500 over Gligic, who sits just over $1,800 ahead of Renfrew.
The first round of the Great Waterway Classic was suspended due to darkness at 7:42 PM ET. Players yet to complete the first round will be back in position at 7:30 AM. The second round will also beginning at the regular scheduled time of 7:30 AM.