It’s rare that a course record doesn’t fall the first time a course hosts a top-tier event. So it went at Cherry Hill Club in Ridgeway, Ontario, Canada, on day one of the Niagara Championship. Paul McConnell, a Plano (Texas) native, tossed a salad filled with nine birdies and one bogey to shoot 63 and set the new standard. It also gave him a one-stroke lead over Manav Shah, who close with eagle for 64.
The only time McConnell got himself in trouble all day came on the penultimate hole. The rough along the par-four 17th ensnared the hot hand and he made his only bogey of the day after a run of five birdies in seven holes. On the 18th, he left himself a delicate pitch, over a bunker, to the most diabolical green along the Niagara peninsula. The 45th-ranked (on the Mackenzie Tour) McConnell sliced the pitch to within four feet, then drained the wee putt for his magical number.
— Mackenzie Tour (@PGATOURCanada) September 8, 2016
The top players on the Order of Merit struggled in the high winds of day one. Number one guy Dan McCarthy had one-over 72 for a tie for 50th, while number two guy Taylor Moore one higher for 73 and a tie for 72nd. Among the top five, only Aaron Wise (-2) could break par over the storied, hoary Walter J. Travis designed course. Local favorite Dudley Hart was in at even-par 71, while former Canadian National Team member Blair Hamilton made his pro debut with 67.
(All images and video courtesy of the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada.)