James Erkenbeck shot a seven-under 65 on Thursday at Whitewater Golf Club in Thunder Bay, Ont., to take the first round lead at the Staal Foundation Open.
Erkenbach carded one of just two bogey-free rounds on the day and birdied four of his final eight holes to lead by two over Riley Wheeldon of Comox, B.C., at the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada event.
Wheeldon, who started the season with four missed cuts before rebounding with a T4 finish at the Players Cup in Winnipeg last week, credited a more patient approach for his upward trending game.
“I was struggling at the start of the year, kind of searching. I found a few things last week and regained a little bit of confidence and hopefully I’ll carry it over this week,” said Wheeldon.
“I three-putted from a spot on No. 1 that, I think in weeks past, would have made me pretty upset, but I’ve been working on taking it a little bit easier and being more patient with myself out there and not getting so down on my putter. Luckily, the putter turned around quickly,” he said.
One shot further behind in a five-way tie for third were Corey Conners, Logan McCracken, Austin Connelly, Taylor Moore and Monday qualifier Michael Blair.
The leaderboard is here.