Holding a hot hand

KEN WIEBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 5:39 AM ET

On a day better suited for ice fishing than golf and one where three and sometimes four layers of clothing were required, Rob Oppenheim still found a way to heat up.

Oppenheim, who resides in Maryland, fashioned a 5-under 66 to hold a one-stroke lead after the first round of the $200,000 Canadian Tour Players Cup being held at Pine Ridge Golf Club.

"I just stayed out of trouble," said Oppenheim, whose round included six birdies, 11 pars and a lone bogey on his final hole, the legendary 231-yard Par-3 ninth. "You never like to bogey your last hole, but nine was playing like a Par-4 today. I gave myself a good look and unfortunately, it didn't go in. I made some putts during the day, so I'm not complaining."

Oppenheim, who finished third at the MTS Classic back in 2006 when it was held at Pine Ridge, said his local knowledge of the track paid dividends -- especially in the tough conditions.

"This is my fifth time playing the event and it helps on a day like this," said Oppenheim. "On most holes, if you're above the pin you're going to make bogey."

Australian Luke Hickmott and Shawn Jasper of Missouri are tied for second place at 67.

"If you could control your ball in the wind, you could still score," said Hickmott, who made three consecutive birdies at one point to get himself going. "The wind doesn't worry me too much. I grew up in Australia and the weather there can be pretty windy.

"I drove the ball straight, my driver was good and I putted better than I had in a long time. Putting was the key. If you had said I'd have 67 at the start of the day, I would have been ecstatic."

Jasper, who played in the afternoon when the winds picked up another notch or two, actually used Oppenheim's early score as a barometer.

"That told me that there were scores under par out there (to be had)," said Jasper. "I'm lucky I packed some long-sleeved clothes, otherwise I would have been struggling. I had a good time with (the weather). It's all on your mental outlook. It was tough, but I had fun with the shot-shaping. I hit a lot of good shots and fortunately I came in pretty low."

Jasper would have been tied for the lead had he not made a bogey on his final hole.

"I'll take it in a heartbeat," said Jasper. "I got off to a really good start and managed to hold onto it."

Dauphin product Ryan Horn sits in a four-way tie for fourth with Brad Fritsch of Ottawa and Californians Joseph Greiner and Ryan Thornberry of after shooting a 3-under 68.

"I've been looking at the forecast, so you know what you're going to get," said Horn, who started off the round sporting a toque. "Seventy-one is always a good score on a day like today. You just try to make pars, hit fairways and greens."

Horn said playing in a group with Oppenheim was a bonus.

"We get 'er going early. He was playing well and I just tried to keep up to him," said Horn. "I didn't get to see a leaderboard until four or five on the back side. I saw we were up there, so obviously, you want to keep going and finish strong."

Defending champion Wes Heffernan of Calgary and Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask. are among those tied for eighth, three strokes off the pace.

Scott Loewen of Pine Ridge is the low amateur after shooting 70, which leaves him tied for 17th.

The projected cut -- which include the Top-60 players and ties after the second round -- is plus-2.

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos