EDMONTON, ALTA — Edmonton Country Club’s course record was matched bright and early on Thursday during the first round of the 1932byBateman Open as Hayden Buckley, playing out of the second group of the day, managed eight birdies without a blemish on his card to sign for an opening-round 63.
In his first professional season, Buckley has quickly learned how to adapt on the fly.
Following a T8 finish at the Windsor Championship, an event where Buckley posted four rounds of 68 or lower, including a second-round 64, he decided that it was time for a change.
“I wasn’t comfortable,” said the 2018 Missouri University Male Athlete of the Year. “I’ve always told myself that when I’m comfortable over the ball, I feel like I’ll make putts.
“I’ve played the U.S. Amateur with that putter and shot rounds in the low 60s with it, but there comes a time when you have to make a change.”
Despite three top-10 finishes through the opening five events of the season, Buckley walked into Golf Town in Toronto on Monday before the Osprey Valley Open looking for a way to revamp his game.
“I went in looking for a new grip, but they didn’t have what I wanted, so I grabbed a putter off the rack, hit a few putts with it, and bought it,” said Buckley, who has had the Seemore putter in his bag ever since. “I had one of the best putting weeks that I’ve had in Toronto.”
The 23-year old carried his momentum from the T5 finish into the HFX Pro-Am, where he posted four more under-par scores to place T11 and launch himself into the ninth spot on the Order of Merit.
Working almost exclusively with the new putter during the off-week back home in Tupelo, Mississippi, Buckley credits Thursday’s professional-best score to the efforts he put in on the green last week.
“The week off was huge, most of my time was spent putting, so today, standing over 30-footers, I felt comfortable and was lucky to see a few of those roll in,” said Buckley, who made four 30-foot looks on Thursday. “The biggest issue was getting used to the speed, but I’ve gotten there, and it was a day where I didn’t hit it great, just good enough, but I made a lot of putts.
“You can’t rely on making 30-footers every day, but I’ll take them when they fall.”
David Rose managed a bogey-free 65 and is the low Canadian heading into Friday. The score is the 30-year old’s lowest-career Mackenzie Tour round.
- Recent Vanderbilt graduate Will Gordon made his PGA TOUR debut last week at the Barracuda Championship, finishing T31 to add to his already impressive professional resume that includes a T28 finish at the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, his lone Korn Ferry Tour start. Gordon’s opening-round 64 is the second-lowest of his professional career, his lowest being a 60 during the first round of the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open.
- Shintaro Ban’s opening-round 64 marked the lowest score of his professional career thus far and his first bogey-free round. The UNLV standout was a semifinalist for the Hogan Award in 2018 and made his first PGA TOUR cut earlier this season at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, finishing in 72nd.
- Van Thomas fired his lowest Mackenzie Tour score to date by three strokes in the form of a first-round 64 at Edmonton Country Club on Thursday afternoon. The first-year professional’s best finish to date came at the season-opening Canada Life Open where he finished T39.
- Between PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and the Mackenzie Tour, Ryan Ruffels has registered three runner-up finishes in 2019, his latest at the Windsor Championship where he finished one-stroke back of champion Dawson Armstrong. The Australian managed his best round since that event on Thursday, making five birdies and an eagle to post an opening-day 66.
- James Allenby, who currently resides in 14th place on the Order of Merit, shot a bogey-free 66 on Thursday. The 34-year old is in search of his second Canada Life Canadian Player of the Week award.
“Starting early in the morning you always get good greens. I didn’t hit it close to the hole all day, it was one of those days where you get it on the green and give yourself opportunities.” – Hayden Buckley
“It was wet, so the greens were really soft, and it was tough to get close to some pins, but I made a few from outside 30-feet and built on that on the front side. When I made the turn I had plenty of opportunities. It’s a straightforward course where you take it when you can get it and try to make some long putts.”
– Hayden Buckley
“It’s kind of all coming together now, there’s still a few things I have to clean up to get the ball a little closer to the hole, but when you’re making putts from 20 or 30-feet you smile about it and keep going.” – Hayden Buckley
“It’s not super long, there are a few holes that have a bit of length to them, but it’s kind of weird where fairway isn’t always the best spot. It’s hard to get the ball close to back pins if you’re not in the rough, I know it sounds crazy, but I hit a few shots close out of the rough today, There are some elevation changes on some par-3s where you have to hit the right yardage, but the par-5s are all pretty gettable, so low scores are out there, but you have to get out there and play really good golf.” – Hayden Buckley On Edmonton Golf and Country Club
“Today was a lot better than my other events. I had only made one cut, so it’s nice to have some off weeks here and there and I was lucky to make it after the reshuffle. I did some good work in the off week and came out and played steady.” – Shintaro Ban
“I made a couple swing changes that I know will be better for the long run, but that’s what you have to do during practice and when you come out here you just go with what you’ve got. My problems are always little things I tend to forget, which is a good thing and a bad thing, but I’m glad I got sight of it after the last three events. I wasn’t hitting it well off the tee, which is usually the best part of my game, but my driver hasn’t really been working so I switched to a new shaft and made a couple minor adjustments and am finding more fairways.” – Shintaro Ban
“Finding fairways gave me so much more confidence. Out here, it’s a pretty short course, but at the same time pretty narrow fairways. I’m finally playing my game and how I usually play.” – Shintaro Ban
“I know hole No. 6 and No. 8 are facing the same general direction. I made the putt on No. 5 and thought ‘ok I’m ready to go’, so I pulled out my hybrid on No. 6 because I totally forgot it was a par 5, I thought I was on No. 8. I saw my playing partners both hit driver and I thought ‘that’s so far down the hill, they’re going to be screwed.’ I looked up and saw the sign that said par-5 and thought, ‘oh no’.” – Shintaro Ban
“I had a chance to hit it on in two, but I blocked it way right over by No. 7 tee and had no angle at the pin. I chipped it over the green and I miraculously hit it to 8-feet and made it. That felt like a birdie to me. I would have been a little mad if I let that one go.” – Shintaro Ban
“I had a week of rest before the Barracuda (Championship), which got my mind and body a little bit better and I’ve been feeling good about my game. I putt the ball really nice today and got it close to the hole, so it was a good combination.” – Will Gordon
“The greens are really soft. I didn’t drive it well off the tee, but I was in the rough and that almost helps take the spin off the ball. I was able to land the ball right by the hole a lot and I had a lot of good angles into pins.” – Will Gordon
“It was awesome. It was exactly what we work for and want the opportunity to do. I had a rough last day there, but to be in contention going into the last day was a good experience and gave me a lot of confidence.” – Will Gordon On making his PGA TOUR debut
“I hit it really well today, hit lot of greens and putt decent. Ball striking has been killing me this year, so it was nice to hit a lot of fairways and have a lot of looks. I was working on a few things last week, sent some videos to some friends and it seems to have really helped.” – David Rose
First-Round Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 22. Wind 10 KPH.