Wyndham Clark fired a bogey-free, 7-under-par 63 Thursday to take the first-round lead at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.
Clark made five of his seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch from Nos. 10-17 at St. George’s Golf & County Club. It was enough for a one-shot edge over England’s Matt Fitzpatrick.
Clark — No. 293 in the Official World Golf Ranking — has never won on the PGA Tour but opened last week’s Memorial Tournament with a 4-under round, one off the lead.
“Friday my nerves and some anxiousness out there kind of affected how I played, and I was really frustrated because my game was there last week,” Clark said. “I really felt like I could have turned that into a really great week, and I just didn’t fully have it on the weekend. I played great Saturday and Sunday and shot like even-par both days. So it was just nice to come out here, felt similar play, but I just had the putts fall.”
The unusual layout of St. George’s means players are teeing off at Nos. 1 and 9 for the first two rounds, rather than the usual Nos. 1 and 10. Fitzpatrick started at No. 9 and birdied his first three holes and four of his first five. He finished the day with seven birdies and just one bogey.
Doug Ghim and Harold Varner III shot 5-under 65s to form a tie for third. Mackenzie Hughes was the low Canadian for the day, joining a tie for fifth with Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Lee Hodges and Tony Finau at 4 under.
McIlroy is the defending champion; after he won the 2019 Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf & Country Club, the tournament was scratched for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
McIlroy’s last hole was the par-3 eighth, where he sank a 22-footer for birdie to get to 4 under.
“I think this course’s best defense in any conditions is the rough and the pin positions,” McIlroy said. “The greens are slopey. If you hit it in the rough, you don’t have a chance of getting to some of the hole locations.”
Hughes started his round on No. 9 and made an early splash with an eagle at the par-5 11th. He reached the back fringe of the green with his second shot and made the 12 1/2-foot putt from there.
No Canadian player has won his national open since Pat Fletcher in 1954.
“Obviously every week you go on the PGA Tour, you want to play well, but playing well in front of the home fans and your friends and family, it’s hard to describe how good that feels,” Hughes said.
World No. 1 and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas both opened with rounds of 1-under 69.
–Field Level Media