CALGARY, ALTA. — It would be quite the understatement to say that Taylor Pendrith feels pretty good on the golf course right now.
In his first tournament round since firing a course-record-setting 62 four days ago in Edmonton, Pendrith once again fired a 62, this time matching the Country Hills Golf Club course record, to take the first-round lead at the ATB Financial Classic.
“To continue the momentum was great,” said the 28-year old. “I hit the ball really good today, didn’t make too many mistakes and my putter saved me a few times.”
It’s only fitting that, since Canada Day, nobody on the Mackenzie Tour has played better golf than Pendrith.
From the start of the Windsor Championship to Thursday’s round, a stretch of 17 tournament rounds, Pendrith has a scoring average of 66.5 and is a combined 84-under par, 13 strokes better than the next-closest player, Lorens Chan (71-under).
“I’ve played really good golf the past three or four weeks, and I’m in a groove,” said Pendrith, who has shot 68 or better in 14 of those 17 rounds. “It feels easy. Sometimes golf feels really hard, but right now I’m hitting it great and putting well, so it’s a good combo.”
In three previous Mackenzie Tour visits to Calgary, Pendrith has made one cut. Thursday’s 62 is his best score by four strokes.
“I haven’t played this place well in the past,” said the Richmond Hill, Ontario, native. “I have a good game plan this week, though, and today I hit a lot of fairways and didn’t make too many mistakes.”
Starting his round on the back nine, Pendrith made birdie on his second hole of the day before knocking an 8-iron approach to 10 feet on the par-5 13th, a putt he rolled in for eagle to move to 3-under par.
Making two more birdies before the turn, Pendrith opened his back nine with three consecutive birdies to match Stoney Crouch’s clubhouse lead, at 8-under.
Marking down one more circle on his scorecard, on No. 8, Pendrith capped his day with a 20-foot par make on his final hole to match Corey Pereira, Michael Schoolcraft and Lee Hodges’ scores of 62, all set at last year’s event.
“I didn’t know the record until just now, and it’s pretty cool,” said Pendrith, who has four top-10 finishes this season and has made all but one cut. “It was a pretty special day. I’m honestly just playing golf. and I’m in a good mental spot and having fun.”
Pendrith, who has posted two consecutive bogey-free rounds and has only made one bogey in his last 54 holes, played alongside fellow Canadian and friend Riley Wheeldon on Thursday, who fired his best-career opening round on the Mackenzie Tour, a 63.
“It was just fun seeing a lot of good golf shots,” said Wheeldon. “I just wanted to keep pace with Taylor out there, and I did for the most part.
“A couple times a year the draw gives you a gift,” Wheeldon continued. “This was one of them. Obviously, [Pendrith] is playing good, and he’s a good friend and a good guy, so I was looking forward to it.”
In addition to having the chance to move to the top spot on the Order of Merit with a win, Pendrith is looking to pick up his fourth consecutive Canada Life Canadian Player of the Week award.