McCumber brings the heat in Calgary in search of natural hat-trick
August 09, 2018
By Brendan Stasiewich, PGATOUR.COM
- August 09, 2018
- The past two seasons, Tyler McCumber has walked away from the ATB Financial Classic with T2 and T6 finishes. (Claus Andersen/PGA TOUR)
Calgary, Alta, Canada— If somebody called for a heat check on Thursday at Country Hills Golf Club, it was probably for Tyler McCumber, who finished the first round of the ATB Financial Classic tied for the lead after a course-record matching 63.
Though it’s doubtful that the feeling gets old, the number marked McCumber’s sixth round played in 65 strokes or better in his last nine Mackenzie Tour rounds.
Coming off back-to-back victories at the Osprey Valley Open and Syncrude Oil Country Championship presented by AECON, it would be difficult to find a course better suited for the Ponte Vedra, Florida, native to contend for a natural hat-trick. The past two seasons, McCumber has walked away from the tournament with T2 and T6 finishes.
“I always like coming here,” said the 25-year-old. “I played here two years prior and had two pretty solid finishes, so it fits my eye.”
Easy to say after carding nine birdies.
The number-one ranked player on the Order of Merit didn’t appear phased by the early-morning smoke that filled the Calgary air due to the recent British Columbia fires, nor the record-breaking heat wave, as McCumber carded three consecutives circles to begin his day.
Adding two more on the front side to make the turn in 31 strokes, the five-time winner of PGA TOUR sanctioned events made four more on the back, and, offset by a single bogey, carded a back-nine 32.
“It was nice to keep the momentum going,” said McCumber. “I think I’ve been working hard on my game and it’s finally clicking; the pieces are coming together at the same time, which is what I’ve been working on.”
On top of the game itself, McCumber notes another positive has been his health. After battling injuries for the better part of a year and a half, McCumber has been healthy since October, which has allowed him to focus on improving the weaknesses in his game that kept him from the winner’s circle in 2017.
So far, so good. Becoming the first player in the PGA TOUR era of the Mackenzie Tour to win back-to-back events last week in Edmonton, McCumber knows that it’s imperative to take advantage of the weeks where everything clicks.
“You can have a great week and not win. The amount of times you win in your career is a handful, if you’re one of the greats you might win twenty times, and that’s a hall of fame career,” said McCumber. “It’s unlike other sports, so you have to judge yourself based on your own personal criteria.
“If you executed and did all the things leading up to the execution to the best of your ability, that’s how you judge your performance.”
While McCumber has threatened a spot in The Five all season long, he’s joined atop the leaderboard by a pair of golfers who appear to have found their A-game after grinding through the first half of the season.
Jonathan Garrick, who had two top-10 finishes in 2017, including a T2 in Montreal at the Mackenzie Investments Open presented by Jaguar Laval, matched McCumber’s 63 and even threatened a 59 after making birdie on 13 to move to 9 under on the day.
While Garrick sits at 72nd on the Order of Merit, the 99th ranked player, Chris Killmer, also fired a 63, including a stretch of five birdies in a row from holes 11-15 en-route to his lowest career Mackenzie Tour round.
Canadian Ryan Williams made only a single bogey on his way to a 65, leading Taylor Pendrith and Jared du Toit by one in chase of the Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week award – though none of the players would complain if the award was accompanied by a tournament victory.
· Something about twins. Seeing his brother, Yannick, place T5 last week at the Syncrude Oil Country Championship presented by AECON, Jeremy Paul decided it was his turn, making five birdies and an eagle on his 16th hole on Thursday to fire a 64 – his second-best number of the season after a 63 during the second round of the GolfBC Championship. Paul is one-stroke back of the leaders heading into the second round.
· Corey Pereira matched his lowest Mackenzie Tour score on Thursday with a 64. The highlight? A hole-in-one on the sixth hole that moved him to 4 under on the day. He followed up his first-ever tournament hole-in-one with a birdie on the seventh hole to play the four-hole stretch 5 under par.
· A partial home game for Jared du Toit, who spent his later teen years in Calgary, shot his best number since the Staal Foundation Open, making seven birdies to card a 66. Du toit sits comfortably in a tie for 12th heading into the third round.
· Chris Williams, looking to add to his 2018 resume that includes three top-10 finishes, including a fourth-place finish last week in Edmonton, made his first career albatross on the seventh hole. From 195-yards out, Williams jarred his 7-iron on the way to a bogey-free 65 that puts him in a tie for sixth.
· How’s the Mackenzie Tour class this year? Greyson Sigg set the Country Hills course record last year with a second-round 63. Three players matched that number today, and it appears that the 15 under mark that won the event in 2017 will be easily eclipsed.
“I think “The Zone” can be related to focus, thinking the right things, and having the right habits mentally. I’m thinking right, the ball is going, pretty much, where I’m looking, which is a nice thing, and to hold on to that for three weeks feels pretty good.”
– Tyler McCumber explaining what “The Zone” is.
“You can have a good week and finish twentieth, or you can feel like you played well, and you miss a cut. It’s just golf, that’s just what it is and at any point you can click. You win, it can click. You make a cut, it can click. You make five birdies in a row, it can click.”
– Tyler McCumber
“It’s awesome to have dad out here. He came here last year, so he loves Calgary, we’re actually going to Banff today. It’s just fun, we don’t get to spend a lot of time together because he’s doing the DirectTV and Serious XM Radio with the PGA TOUR, so for us to spend a full week together on the course and off the course is fun.”
– Tyler McCumber on Mark McCumber watching him play this week.
“The walk from nine to 10 is pretty long, so it gives you a lot of time to think. After I birdied 10 I knew I could keep it going, and when I made a long one on 12 I knew 59 was a possibility. I gave myself a chance after 14 but then missed a few. I was just playing against myself today, I just wanted to give myself a chance to shoot 59 so I wasn’t really concerned with what anybody else was doing.”
– Jonathan Garrick on the 59 watch.
“I haven’t been playing great this year to be honest, but I got something going on the range earlier this week and I was prepared for a good round today, but I didn’t know it would be 8-under. I’ve been around a lot of cutlines where I’ve had to make birdie or par on the 36th hole to make the cut, which isn’t very much fun, so this is a way better position.”
– Jonathan Garrick
“It was awesome, I got a hole-in-one and made a bunch of birdies in between! I just overall played great, and it was fun to have a hole-in-one where I hit a great shot; it wasn’t one where it went off a slope, it was a really quality shot, so it was nice to go over there and see it in the hole.”
– Corey Periera On how fun his day was.
“With all the conversions for elevation it played like, 139 back home, so I choked up on a nine-iron and hit a controlled draw. I saw it land about a foot left of the pin, but it was over a little ridge. I knew it would break to the right, so I knew it had a chance, so I got up there and it was dead center.”
– Corey Periera On his hole-in-one.
First-Round Weather: Sunny and hot, high of 31. Wind 5 KM/h.