Garrick and Walker lead Freedom 55 Financial Championship
September 13, 2018
By Brendan Stasiewich, PGATOUR.COM
- September 13, 2018
- Jonathan Garrick is coming off his best finish of the season with a T5 at the ATB Financial Classic. (Claus Andersen/Mackenzie Tour)
London, ON, Canada — There’s just something about Thursdays at Highland Country Club that gets Jonathan Garrick going. In both 2016 and 2017, the American has managed 6-under 64s, and this year he improved on his stellar resume, throwing a co-leading 63 on the board at the Freedom 55 Financial Championship.
“I was hitting my irons well and gave myself a lot of chances,” said Garrick, who finished in a tie for 41st in 2017 and a tie for 28th in 2016. “I just have to keep it going for three more days.”
Garrick comes into the event playing his best golf of the season, a huge bounce back after missing four cuts in the year’s opening seven events.
“I had a good first round in Calgary and since then I’ve played pretty solid,” said the 24-year-old. “I’ve been near the top of the leaderboard at some point during every event and I’m gaining more confidence. I’ve really just stopped overthinking what I’ve been doing.”
Garrick’s first round in Calgary, a 9-under 63, set the UCLA alum up for his best finish of the season, a T5 that put him well inside the top 60 and secured his spot at the year’s final event for the third consecutive year.
Next to Garrick on the leaderboard is 22-year-old Danny Walker. The recent University of Virginia grad made five birdies as well as the only eagle of the day on No. 3 to sign for his lowest score since a 62 at the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open helped him to a T9 finish, his best as a professional.
Last season, Jared du Toit claimed Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Year honours after finishing T17 at the event, highlighted by a first-round 61. This time around, Du Toit sits just one off the lead after a first-round 64 matches him with fellow Canadian Michael Gligic in a tie for third. For more on the chase for Canadian Player of the Year honours click here.
· The top five players on the Order of Merit following the event will secure Web.com Tour status, with the top player fully exempt through the 2019 season. Players who finish between 6-10 on the year-long race will receive an exemption into the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School and players 11-25 will receive an exemption into the second stage of the event.
· With a win or a solo-second finish, Tyler McCumber would secure the winningest season in Mackenzie Tour history, breaking Dan McCarthy’s mark of $157,843 from 2016. After his three wins this year at the Osprey Valley Open, the Syncrude Oil Country Championship and the Players Cup, McCumber has already secured Player of the Year honours with his impressive $135,700 to-date. McCumber made six birdies on Thursday to sign for a 65 and sits T5 heading into Friday.
· In the same pairing as McCumber, Zach Wright, who currently occupies the second spot on the Order of Merit and has already locked up Web.com Tour status, matched the top-player’s 65, doing it without a square on his scorecard.
· Michael Gligic has finished outside the top-30 only once in his past seven Mackenzie Tour events. The magnificent stretch of golf includes three top-10 finishes, including a runner-up showing at the Windsor Championship. Gligic continued his solid play into Thursday at Highland Country Club, making six birdies to fire a bogey-free 64.
· While things looked bleak for P.J. Samiere after a T28 finish at Q-School gave him less than stellar 2018 Mackenzie Tour status, the San Diego State alum bounced back with a runner-up finish at the GolfBC Championship after Monday qualifying into the event. Samiere brought that same level of play into his opening round in London, shooting 65 to head into Friday tied for sixth.
· With four birdies on his front nine, David Bradshaw polished off a first-round 65 without a blemish on the scorecard. Despite only playing seven events, Bradshaw has only missed one cut and is 46th on the money list.
· At spot No. 4 on the Order of Merit, Corey Pereira controls his own destiny and can assure his spot in The Five with a solid performance. The Californian is off to a solid start, firing his 17th consecutive round under par on Tour.
· There has been only one tournament this season that Brad Miller didn’t fire a round in the 60s. Despite this, Miller has only cracked two top-10s, with his best finish coming in the form of a third place showing at the Bayview Place DCBank Open. Miller opened the Freedom 55 Financial Championship strongly, making seven birdies to shoot 65.
· Hole Nos. 14-16 proved to be the teeth of Highland Country Club, all playing above par, with No. 16 serving as the hardest test with a 4.32 day-one scoring average.
“I don’t know what it is, maybe just the fact that there’s no cut and you’re freed up playing in twosome, you can get in a rhythm pretty easily and it just fits my eye.”
– Jonathan Garrick on the formula to his first-round success
“I got things rolling on the third hole when I made about a 20-footer for eagle, and I just played solid all day. I made a few good par saves to keep things going, hit a lot of good shots, made some good putts and it was just a good solid day. I haven’t really played well the past month and a half or so, but I saw my coach on Monday and spent thirty minutes with him, worked on it Tuesday and Wednesday and I hit it a lot better today.”
– Danny Walker
“It’s great to be here, that’s the first goal at the start of the year, getting here and then finishing near The Five or the top-10 on the money list. It’s a really nice vibe here having less guys in the field and playing in twosomes all week as well as teeing off from number one every day.”
– Danny Walker
“I tried to calculate it a little bit and I figured to do anything I need, at minimum, a solo third-place finish. So if that’s what you need, may as well try to win and see what happens. You can play the course different ways, you can hit driver around if you want, there’s not a lot of trouble. There’s certain greens where you need to be in the fairway or one side of the rough vs. the other to access some pins, but it’s pretty soft right now, so even in the rough it doesn’t make that much difference unless you get a bad lie, which I only got one of today.”
– Danny Walker
“I’ve been very much up and down (this season). Normally I like to make a fair share of cuts, but this year I’ve missed my fair share… everything happens for a reason and hopefully I can get something going this week, and keep it going.”
– Jared du Toit
"I left the ball in pretty good spots all day. I hit 16 greens and had a lot of looks and I was fortunate enough to make a few. There are small greens out here so if you can just get on the green and have the putter heat up, you can go low."
– Jared du Toit
First-Round Weather: Cloudy, 18 degrees Celsius, 20 KM/h wind