WINDSOR JUNCTION, N.S. - In many ways, the Nova Scotia Open is just another Web.Com Tour event, another chance to move up the money list and get closer to a PGA Tour card for next year.
But for the 20 Canadians in the field, it is a rare home game with some tangible benefits.
"It's great," said Roger Sloan, who plays out of the Tobiano Golf Club in Kamloops, B.C. "I stopped at Tim Hortons before my round."
Perhaps it was the power of that morning double-double that pushed Sloan to a score of four-under 67, the lowest among the Canadians who teed off in the morning wave.
"I got off to a really good start," said Sloan. "Birdied my first hole and had a couple of really good birdie opportunities in my first few holes. It was just a solid ball-striking day."
Sloan had it to four under through his first nine with birdies on the third, fifth and ninth holes. He pushed that to five under with another one at the 12th before giving that back at the 17th.
The New Course at Ashburn isn't long by Web.Com Tour standards but the greens here are providing a suitable defence. The putting surfaces have strong (a polite word) slopes that make getting the ball close on approaches tough and the putting even more difficult.
"The greens are tricky," Sloan stated, "so you really have to be in control of the ball to get it close."
By the time 36 holes are in the bag, "tricky" might be a nice description for how the players view these greens. They will most certainly be the deciding factor in who wins.
Sloan, of course, is hoping that will be him. He's in his second season on the Triple-A circuit and has been playing some more consistent golf this season, making the cut in seven of 12 starts. However, he's only missed once in his last seven events, showing steady improvement.
A year ago, he was anything but consistent, making just five cuts in 19 starts. However there was a slight off-course distraction as he got married. This year, however, his goal was to avoid the highs and lows, and even out his play.
"I've been playing solid all year," he stated, "putting together some solid rounds of golf. That's what I really wanted to do this year. You never know when those really good rounds are going to come. You just have to keep plugging away and stay focused on one shot at a time."
Talking to Sloan it's easy to see he's mature and keeps a good perspective on life, something that isn't always found in younger players. He sees the world beyond golf and is obviously well-grounded.
He is in the middle of a seven-week run of tournaments but doesn't seem frustrated or burned out or home-sick, despite the fact his wife rarely is able to join him on Tour. He understands his job and the career he's chosen. He prepared himself for this lengthy road trip and is focused on his game.
"There's no job security out here as you might have on the PGA Tour where I can take next week off," Sloan stated. "You have a lot of guys playing really well, lot of great players, too. There's pressure to play well but at the same time, if you're out here, you have the ability so trust yourself."
Unlike a number of the other Canadians such as Adam Hadwin or MacKenzie Hughes, Sloan is playing without much in the way of outside financial backing. He has no major sponsors and wasn't a beneficiary of Golf Canada's Young Pro program when it was announced earlier this year. In fact, he's never really been on the Golf Canada radar, when he was an amateur or now. It's somewhat hard to believe -- actually it's shocking -- that with his talent and personality, a company wouldn't embrace him and get behind him.
Still, the ever-optimistic Sloan doesn't see that as a problem, but rather a fact that will change only by his doing.
"I've been blessed to play this game professionally on my own accord," he stated. "It's taught me a lot of good values. It's been tough, I've had to make a lot of sacrifices, my wife and I, in order to make that work. It's tough but at the same time I have to keep focused on playing well and ultimately achieving my goal of winning on the PGA Tour and the money kind of takes care of itself."