63’s top leaderboard after first round of Freedom 55 Financial Open

Freedom 55 Financial Open

*Image credit: Claus Andersen/PGA TOUR

Vancouver, British Columbia (Mackenzie Tour) – Harare, Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent and Jacksonville Beach, Florida’s T.J. Vogel opened with a pair of 9-under 63s on Thursday at Point Grey Golf and Country Club to share the first round lead at the Freedom 55 Financial Open, the first event of the 2017 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season.

The pair finished the day three strokes clear of three players in a tie for third, including Burlington, Ontario’s Blair Hamilton, Tampa, Florida’s Lee McCoy and Bakersfield, California’s Manav Shah after day one.

Vincent, a 25-year old Virginia Tech alum, pulled off the rare feat of making eagle on both his first and 18th holes of the day to shoot his best career round on the Mackenzie Tour.

“I started great, finished great,” said Vincent. “I just hit the ball really well in general. I made a few nice putts that kept the round going and kept the birdies coming.”

The second-year Mackenzie Tour member capped off the day by striking a 6-iron just below the hole at Point Grey’s par-5 18th to give himself a good look at what would become his second eagle of the day to go with six birdies and one bogey.

“The wind was a little behind, and it just set up nicely. I really struck it great to about four feet away, and just had to keep the speed up on the putt,” said Vincent of the closing eagle.

Just like Vincent, Vogel made the most of a hot start, recording a birdie at the par-4 11th and then rolling in a long eagle putt at the par-5 12th to get under par early. The University of Florida grad finished the day with an eagle and seven birdies to match the lead with a 63, also a career low.

“I got off to a great start. I hit it close on 11 and drained a bomb for eagle on 12, and I was able to settle down right away. I feel like my process was good today. I had a good routine and did my best not to get ahead of myself,” said Vogel.

BACKGROUND ON THE LEADERS: Vogel had a standout amateur career, including a win at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links. Now in his fifth season as a professional with 57 combined starts on the PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour, Mackenzie Tour and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, the 26-year old said he’s learning to stay patient and to stay out of his own way, especially on days like Thursday when he’s playing well.

“It’s so easy to get ahead of yourself at this stage of your career. I have struggled with that, and today my only concern was just to stay present,” said Vogel. “It’s easy when you get off to a good start to stop making birdies and stop doing the things that got you to where you were.”

Vogel played collegiate golf at the University of Southern California for two years before transferring closer to home at the University of Florida, claiming an NCAA All-American honour once at each school.

Vincent, a former 1st team All-American at Virginia Tech, is looking to build on the success he had in British Columbia last season. On last year’s B.C. Golf Swing, he finished T8 at the Freedom 55 Financial Open, fifth at the Bayview Place Cardtronics Open presented by Times Colonist and T14 at the GolfBC Championship.

“I guess it’s just the way that the courses are set up,” said Vincent, explaining his success in B.C. “They’re similar to some of the courses I play back home in Zimbabwe, and I’m used to that. You don’t hit a lot of drivers out here, and I think I prefer that.”

THEY SAID IT:

“I’m very blessed to get that exemption, but you’ve just got to treat it like it’s another golf tournament. I’ve been playing well and you just have to trust that you’ve put in the hard work and not worry too much. Things will take care of themselves if you play the way you’re supposed to.” – Blair Hamilton on making the most of a sponsor exemption this week.

“It was trying to hit it straight to the left side, and it turned out to be a baby fade. It landed on the right side on a little slope and bounced left, and you couldn’t really see the hole, but my playing partners said it went in.” – Vaita Guillaume on his hole-in-one on the eighth hole.

MORE PLAYER NOTES:

Lee McCoy

University of Georgia alum and former NCAA All-American Lee McCoy is making his first career start on the Mackenzie Tour. In 2016, he thrilled hometown fans in Palm Harbor, Florida by finishing solo fourth as an amateur at the Valspar Championship on the PGA TOUR.

Blair Hamilton

University of Houston alum Blair Hamilton is making his first start as a member of the Mackenzie Tour and fourth career start overall. The former member of Golf Canada’s National Amateur Team earned conditional status at the 2017 British Columbia Q-School and is playing on a sponsor exemption this week.

Manav Shah

UCLA alum Manav Shah is making his 13th career start on the Mackenzie Tour. In 2016, the UCLA alum finished 22nd on the Order of Merit and recorded three top-10s, including a T8 at the Freedom 55 Financial Open.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Weather: 17 degrees Celsius, cloudy with drizzle, winds 3 km/h.
  • Preferred lies were in effect for Round 1.
  • Vaita Guillaume recorded an ace with a 2-iron from 206 yards on the eighth hole.
  • Point Grey Golf & Country Club head professional and PGA of Canada member Dave Zibrik opened with a 3-under 69 to sit T21.
  • Click here for scores.

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