It was Canadian day in Arizona.
Nick Taylor of Canada shot 5-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with countryman Adam Hadwin at the end of the first day in the 86th version of the WM Phoenix Open in windy conditions on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz.
There were 38 players still on the course when darkness came because of a nearly two-hour frost delay in the morning, and those golfers will return to finish the opening round on Friday morning before the second round begins.
“Canadian golf is really in a good spot right now and we have a lot of good players out here,” said Hadwin (pictured right), who has won three times in his professional career. “I saw that Nick was tied with me at five-under and wanted to get one more birdie so I could hold it over him tonight, but it’s nice that we are tied.
“I drove the ball well, had a lot of opportunities to be aggressive and made some putts, but you had to be patient because of the wind. I’ve lived in this area for the last several years, always practice and play the course often.
“The course just seems to fit me eye and you just have to keep the ball on the grass and out of the desert.”
Hadwin, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2017 Valspar Championship, started on No. 10 and made his lone bogey at No. 11 before making six birdies the rest of the way, including a 34-foot putt at No. 18 and an 18-footer at No. 1 in his 66.
Taylor (pictured left), who has won twice on the PGA Tour, sank a nine-foot eagle putt on the third hole, made a double-bogey 6 on the sixth hole, but then collected six birdies on the back nine.
“The wind was pretty tough, coming from a different direction than usual on this course, but I hit a lot of nice shots and made some putts,” said Taylor, who won the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship and the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the PGA Tour. “Things just came together for me and I made a lot of 10-12 footers for birdie and to save par.
“This is definitely the tougher of the winds on this course, especially coming down the stretch. All those holes are playing a lot longer than typical. I’ve seen a lot of wind conditions, but this was one of the toughest stretches I’ve played out here. But still, this is a spectacular place, it was a lot of fun out there today and it’s always nice to post a good score here.
“I just want to keep it going.”
The only Canadian to win the Phoenix event was George Knudson in 1968.
Sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State had five birdies and a bogey in a 67 and is one stroke behind in a tie for third with Jason Day of Australia, who was four-under through 10 holes when the end came, and Jim Herman, who was four-under through 13.
Charley Hoffman of Poway and UNLV sank birdie putts of 39 and 36 feet in a 68 and was two shots back in a tie for sixth with third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, who was three-under through 13 holes; Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, who was three-under after 12 holes; 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley, who was three-under through 12; Scott Stallings, who was three-under after 15; Taylor Moore, who was three-under through 14; Wyndham Clark, who was three-under after nine, and Chesson Hadley, who was three-under after eight holes.
Second-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the defending champion, was 1-under through 11 holes and in a tie for 19th that included 10-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick, who shot 70, while ninth-ranked Justin Thomas was one-over through 12 and in a tie for 58th; and top-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland totaled 73 and was in a tie for 82nd that included fifth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and Cal, and seventh-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, who also recorded 73s.
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