Sahl cool on the fairway

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:04 PM ET

CALGARY -- Danny Sahl is dressing in winner's garb these days.

Just days after sewing up his first Canadian Tour victory, the golf fashionista from Sherwood Park has designs on outfitting himself with more successful looks this weekend at the $200,000 ATB Financial Classic.

"I've got lots of confidence," said Sahl, one of the CanTour's most snappy dressers and always sporting a painter's square-cut hat. "I'm just feeling a little bit freer -- my swing and my putting feels a lot better.

"You know you can win -- you want that feeling again."

Sahl is looking for his second straight tour triumph after engineering a runaway win at the inaugural Syncrude Boreal Classic last week in Fort McMurray.

And such continued success looked pretty good for the affable Sahl on Thursday's first day of the ATB Financial Classic until a triple-bogey eight kept him from being high on the leaderboard.

That came on the 565-yard 16th hole, arguably the toughest hole of the Bearspaw Country Club.

A bad tee-shot -- one of a few on the day for Sahl -- was his first mistake on the par-5 challenge. Then came an aggressive decision from 275 yards out to go for the green, and he landed his shot in the drink guarding the dancefloor.

"Even after that, I wasn't nervous," Sahl said. "I'm 31 now -- It's a good age for golf. My mind and body seem to be working together. I just feel like I'm hitting the ball well. That's the difference being older now -- I don't get nervous or mad.

"But I've got to make some putts and make up a couple shots to get to the weekend."

At 1-over 72, Sahl's chasing most of the field, including eight co-leaders. Among those on top are Bearspaw's own Ryan Yip and Mexico's Benjamin Alvarado.

Mother Nature did blow in a stiff breeze later in the day, but it didn't seem to mess up Alvarado. The third-highest money earner on the CanTour season was the only player to post a solid 5-under 66 in gusty afternoon conditions.

Nearly as impressive was Dustin Risdon of Strathmore. The defending champion put up a 4-under matinee.

"I figured there wouldn't be too many lower than 4-under in the afternoon with the wind," Risdon said. "So I was happy walking off the last green with that score."

Sahl, meanwhile, is still basking in the glory of his first career tour victory.

"It was a really good week (in Fort McMurray)," said Sahl, who's playing with brother Darren on the bag. "I've been on such a high for the last week.

"It was just finally my week," Sahl added. "That's the way golf goes."


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