Americans grab four of top six spots after day one of Q-School
COURTENAY, British Columbia—Americans grabbed four of the six top spots at Crown Isle Resort and Golf Club in the opening round of the sixth and final PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament for the 2023 Fortinet Cup.
The Tour begins in earnest next week, down the road in the provincial capital of Victoria for the Royal Beach Victoria Open.
Tyson Dinsmore and Carr Vernon turned in rounds of 6-under 66 Tuesday to grab a share of the lead, while fellow countrymen Austin Fox and Ethan Marcus were a shot back, at 67, along with Canadians Max Sear and Andrew Harrison.
Dinsmore, a native of Los Altos Hills, California, had it to 7-under before making bogey on the 17th hole. That came after a stretch of five birdies in seven holes during his back-nine score of 32.
Vernon, of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, opened with an eagle on his first hole, gave a shot back at the par-3 fourth before recording three straight birdies, on holes 9, 10 and 11. He also birdied 15 and 18 for a 32 on his back nine.
“I’ve been all over Canada, and I would say this is my favorite,” said Vernon, who has twice previously earned playing privileges through the Crown Isle Q-School. “It’s a good spot. I seem to play well here.” Vernon has 20 career PGA TOUR Canada starts to his credit, all coming in 2018 and 2019.
He wasted little time as well, pounding his opening drive on the firm fairways.
“I had the eagle on one and just kind of battled it for a bit but then made bogey on the first par 3. I hit a really good drive (on one). It went down there farther than I thought it would be. I think I had 170-ish yards to the pin, hit 8-iron to about seven or eight feet and made the putt. Easy start, which is nice,” Vernon said of his first-hole eagle.
“I played well all day. I made a bad bogey on the first par-3 and made a good par on six. Made a good putt there. Then I birdied 9, 10 and 11. I kept it in play, was never struggling to make pars and made good birdies on 15 and 18.”
One-hundred-nineteen players from 10 countries are competing for the final 10 PGA TOUR Canada cards up for grabs upon completion of the 72-hole stroke-play tournament.
“It was a bit of a slow start, hitting it well, but I didn’t make too many putts to get going,” Fox said of his opening 67. “The putter (eventually) got hot, and it was a good day. I’m very happy with the start.
“It’s a tough course, a tough driving course, so I’m happy to make some birdies and keep bogeys to a minimum,” he added. You have to keep the ball in play, keep it on the fairway with how firm the greens are and give yourself the best looks for birdies.”
Fox started on the back nine and made bogey on the 12th, with a three-putt, but gained that stroke back on the par-5 15th for an even-par 36 to open his day. An eagle on No. 1 (his 10th hole) and birdies on his 13th, 14th and 17th holes gave him the 5-under 67.
Sear, meanwhile, is no stranger to the area, an Ontario native who makes his home part-time in Victoria. Last year he opened with a 66 in the cold rain and wind at Crown Isle. This time it was a smooth 67 in glorious, sunny weather.
Sear birdied his first and third holes on the front nine and added four more birdies on the back before ending his round with a bogey on 18 or he would have matched his 66 from 2022.
“I stayed patient throughout,” he said. “I was a couple under (par) on the front and then turned the corner. I chipped in on 10, (and) birdied 11, 13 and 15. I kind of cruised and made a little mental error on the last hole and made bogey. That fires me up for [Wednesday], but I’ve got some time between my rounds.
“I had a good game plan, had all my notes from last year,” he added of his return to Crown Isle. “So just stay patient, don’t get too far ahead of the game; stay within myself.”
Harrison, of Camrose, Alberta., turned in a tidy, 5-under 31 on his back nine to record his 67. The University of British Columbia product had eight birdies total, including four straight from holes 10-13 to go with three bogeys.
Three players, including Canadians Jeevan Sihota of nearby Victoria and amateur Kamyar Yamini, are another shot back at 4-under 68.