PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — At least one or two toques were pulled down over the ears of those looking for their putting strokes prior to the start of this morning’s Titleist and FootJoy Canadian PGA Club Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club.
The temperature was 11 C, with winds to 22 km. an hour, a combination that leaves little room for error on a course that is new to Canadian PGA players used to the nearby Ryder Course.
This is the first year of play on the par 72 Wanamaker Course, which has been adjusted to just under 6.900 yards for today’s first round, and according to all reports, is a sterner challenge than the Ryder, particularly with the strong breezes affecting play.
The temperature is forecasted to hit 21 C, with the wind expected to ease this afternoon, so its main victims could be those teeing off this morning on a course that is tough off the tee with rolling, undulating greens.
“It’s a very typical, good Florida golf course,” said four-time national champion Gar Hamilton, who was scheduled to tee off at 11:57 a.m.
“The other course we played, the Ryder course, for a few years, is excellent,” he said. “This one might be a shot or two more difficult. The driving areas are a little tighter. The greens are a little more undulating. I suspect six, seven to 10-under will prevail.”
Factor in the wind and those driving areas could become a little more dangerous. The other bit of bad news for the rest of the field could be that two-time champion Danny King of the Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ont., showed well in yesterday’s practice rounds. He teed off at 8:15 a.m. this morning.
King didn’t make it through the first stage of PGA Tour qualifying school three weeks ago when he shot rounds of 71-73-71-78 to tie for 47th at St. Johns Golf and Country Club, just up I-95 from here in St. Augustine, but the back-to-back winner of the CPC in 2005 and ’06 is always a contender.
“He’s playing very well,” said Hamilton. “I heard he’s putting well and firing in the mid-60s out here in the practice rounds, so that’s a good sign.”
Of course, with these conditions, anyone could come out of the pack including Hamilton who, like many others in the field, often has his game affected by other duties at his club.
“This year, there were extensive renovations done at Mississaugua, so we didn’t really get our season going until June, so you can imagine the tournament schedule was a little crammed up,” said Hamilton.
“It’s just nice to be here and I hope I find my game during the three rounds,” he added.