MONTRÉAL, Québec — Matching his best score of the season on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, Kyle Mueller fired a bogey-free 64 Thursday morning at Elm Ridge Country Club to take a one-stroke lead at the Mackenzie Investments Open.

Playing in the second group of the day, Mueller got off to a hot start with birdies on his opening two holes and later added an eagle and a birdie on hole Nos. 8 and 9 to make the turn in 31 strokes.

“I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and made a couple mid-range putts,” said the 23-year old. “I hit some iron shots close, which really helps, and it was great being the second group off, with perfect greens, making scoring conditions pretty easy with the wind down.”

Finishing his round strong, the second-year professional made back-to-back birdies on his final two holes of the day to card the 64, a score he has bested only once on the Mackenzie Tour, when he made his professional debut at the 2018 Windsor Championship and carded a final-round 63 to tie for 11th.

Trending in the right direction over the past two months, 20 of Mueller’s past 21 rounds on the Mackenzie Tour have been played in 71 strokes or less.

“I got off to a rough start the first half of the season, but I’ve been battling my way back,” said the University of Michigan alum. “My game still doesn’t feel 100 percent, but it’s trending, which is nice.”

During his time as a Wolverine, the Watkinsville, Ga., native picked up five individual victories and was named first-team All-Big 10 Conference three years in a row. Mueller was also a semi-finalist for the Jack Nicklaus Award his junior year.

Despite his successful amateur career, Mueller says adjusting to life as a professional has been a process.

“I thought it was going to be an easier transition than it was,” said Mueller. “The guys out here are really freaking good. You look at the board and 8- or 9-under par is always leading early, so you really have to come out here and post some numbers.

“There’s nothing easy about it, and I’m starting to make that transition and things are starting to get a little bit better,” added Mueller.

Sponsor exemption Raoul Ménard is the low Canadian following the first round of play, leading the hunt for the Canada Life Canadian Player of the Week Award following an opening-round 66.

Making his 11th-career Mackenzie Tour start, Ménard, who hails from Québec City, Québec, is looking to improve upon his career-best Mackenzie Tour finish, when he posted a second-round 64 on his way to a tie for 27th at the 2017 National Capital Open.