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July 25 2013

7:56 PM

Quick recap: Early risers prosper

Brendan Steele, the leader at the RBC Canadian Open, has one top-10 finish in 20 previous events in 2013.
(Martin/Getty Images)

By David McPherson, Special to PGATOUR.COM

OAKVILLE, Ontario -- A tale of tee times sums up the opening round of the 2013 RBC Canadian Open.

Players who teed off early took advantage of optimal scoring conditions. Many with an afternoon starting time struggled to break par. After lunch, the wind picked up, especially in Glen Abbey’s valley holes — one possible reason for the lack of red numbers in the afternoon.

Brendan Steele, with a 7:50 a.m. tee time, set the pace early. The Californian fired the low round of the day, a 6-under 66.

“Today was probably the most complete round that I’ve had all year, so that was kind of nice,” he said. “I didn’t miss many greens, didn’t hit many shots off line, and I was able to roll a few putts in.”

American Joe Affrunti, who continues to rehabilitate a shoulder injury, was one of the few players in the afternoon wave who rolled in some putts. The 31-year-old, who has only played in three TOUR events this year, made five birdies to go along with one bogey for a 4-under 68.

As far as the Canadians – trying to break the 59-year winless drought in their national open – the low round belonged to Brad Fritsch. He finished his day with three straight birdies to post a 69, three back of Steele.

“I felt like I played really well today,” Fritsch said. “I felt like I drove it great. I think I hit less than 50 percent of the fairways, but I think that’s just the nature of this golf course.

“It looked like I got some horrendous bounces,” added the 35-year-old, whose best finish this season is a T9 at the Farmers Insurance Open. “When I was expecting one way, it went the other, and that led to a little bit of frustration. But I stayed patient.”

When asked about the tougher scoring conditions in the afternoon, Fritsch admitted the wind was a factor that required some extra patience.

“Yeah, it swirled quite a bit, obviously, in the valley which is tough,” he said. “It always does. The greens seemed a little inconsistent speed wise. It’s probably sun versus shade which greens get the most of that.”

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