Orr battles through the breeze at the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens
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BRAINERD, Minnesota -- Ryan Orr knew he needed a big week to keep his hopes of advancing to the season-ending Fortinet Cup Championship alive and was able to take advantage of docile early conditions to shoot a 5-under 65 and take the first-round lead at the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens.
Orr began the day ranked No. 148 on the Fortinet Cup Standings points list and needs to climb inside the top 60 to qualify for next week’s final tournament. Orr, who has missed the cut in the last six events, understood his situation, took a nothing-to-lose approach and responded by matching his best score of the season.
“That’s pretty much what I’ve been telling myself all week, well really the last couple weeks, is I have nothing to lose,” said Orr, of Tampa, Florida. “I just need to trust my stuff and be confident. I don’t know exactly what I need, maybe a top-five, maybe a win, but just have fun, trust my stuff and try to win the golf tournament.”
Orr was in the first group of the day and began on the back nine at the Cragun’s Resort Legacy Course. He rolled in a 30-footer for birdie on the first hole. He was able to keep his approach shots below the hole for most of the round and went on to have seven birdies and two bogeys on his card.
“After I missed the cut last week, I was able to come down here early, got a lot of work in, got to play,” Orr said. “I kept working on what I’m doing on the range and it started to click a little bit in the practice rounds. I played well Monday and Tuesday. I just had to go out and really trust my stuff and it worked out nicely.”
It didn’t take long for the wind to pick up and prevent anyone from going lower. The average score was 71.832 on Thursday, compared to 68.487 in the first round of last year’s CRMC Championship. Thursday’s average score at Cragun’s Dutch Legacy Course also marks the highest of any first round played this season.
Although play was suspended due to darkness with two groups still on the course, five players found themselves tied in second place at 4-under 66 – Davis Shore, Sam Jean, Cole Bradley, Yi Cao and Jason Hong, while seven players were tied for seventh at 3-under.
Davis Shore, who won the Ospey Valley Open last month, had an eagle, five birdies and two bogeys. The eagle came on the 16th hole after he missed long with his approach and knocked in a 30-foot chip.
“I was hitting the ball well all day, so that helps in these breezy conditions,” Shore said. “I sort of hung in there pretty well on the front nine – the front nine is a much harder test than the back in terms of how it’s going to be playing, but especially today with this wind.”
Shore, who entered the week No. 9 on the points list, would move into the top five with a victory. That would ensure conditional status on the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour.
“I try to kind of not think about it,” Shore said. “Just got to go out and shoot low scores, that’s what you’re focused on. I need a couple good finishes, so I think I got myself off to a good start today. I haven’t felt any more pressure than you’d normally feel just trying to compete in a tournament. You’ve just to be confident with what you’ve got in front of you and try to shoot a low score.”
Bradley, who lives in St. Augustine, Florida, had five birdies and one bogey on his card.
“I’m proud of myself,” Bradley said. “I had a lot of good saves, a lot of good chip shots and made a couple nice putts. It was just a good grind out there.”
For the six players remaining who need to complete their first round, play will resume in place on Friday at 8:15 a.m. The tee times for the second round will not change.
The top five players in the Fortinet Cup standings didn’t exactly blaze a trail on Thursday. Fortinet Cup points leader Sam Choi is tied for 41st after opening with a 70. No. 2 Davis Lamb opened with a 1-over 71 and is tied for 57th. No. 3 Etienne Papineau had four bogeys, shot 72 and is tied for 78th. No. 4 Stuart Macdonald, who took last week off due to the birth of his child, struggled during his afternoon round, shooting a 75 and is tied for 117th. No. 5 John Pak shot 70 and is tied for 41st.
Ryan Orr’s 5-under 65 is the highest score posted by a first-round leader on PGA TOUR Canada this season. The leaders at the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open and the Commissionaires Ottawa Open were at 7-under after the first round. Alexander Hermann shot 9-under to lead the first round of the CRMC Championship in 2022.
Ryan Orr’s parents, Bruce and Lori Orr, flew in for the week and his father is acting as caddie. They haven’t seen him play competitive golf since he was at the University of Florida
Kyle Vance withdrew after completing six holes on Thursday because of injury. The decision means Vance will not qualify for the season-ending Fortinet Championship.
Minnesota Wild left winger Matt Boldy shot a 9-over 79 that included a pair of double-bogeys. He finished on a bright note by making birdie on his final hole, the ninth. “It was pretty cool to be out there and see what it’s like,” Wild said. “It’s definitely a lot different when you’re out there with every shot that matters. You’re not scooping any of them off. It’s a little bit more nerve-wracking for sure.”
“The golf course is awesome. It’s in such good shape, probably the best shape we’ve had all year. The fairways are just so good, the greens roll so perfect. You can make a lot of putts.” – Ryan Orr
“It was playing really difficult today, especially the second nine. The wind wasn’t really blowing at the start of the day, but it was really blowing when we finished up.” – Davis Shore
“It was a great test. The into-the-wind holes can be very challenging. It’s a good course for some wind because you’ve got a lot of tee shots that can be uncomfortable, and you’ve just got to step up and make a committed golf swing.” – Cole Bradley
First-Round Weather: Hazy sun and windy with a high of 81°F (27°C.) Winds out of the SSE at 14-19 mph (22-30 kph) and gusts reaching 42 mph (67 kph.)