Yip, he's leading CanTour Calgary stop

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:36 AM ET

CALGARY - So Ryan Yip feels he should be able to rip up Bearspaw Country Club in his bid to win the Calgary-hosted $200,000 ATB Financial Classic.

Mission accomplished for the Calgarian golfer -- at least after the first day of the Canadian Tour event.

"My goal was to shoot 5-under or better, so I guess so far, so good," said Yip, after carding a 5-under 66 to open the CanTour stop. "I'm thinking the winner's going to be 20- to 22-under."

It's looking that way after Thursday's 18 holes -- and 54 more to play -- at the course in northwest Calgary.

Yip, 26, is tied atop the leaderboard with seven others.

And he carries big momentum heading into Friday's second day after putting on a clinic over the final three holes of the first round.

"Eagle-eagle-birdie finish," said Yip of his 5-under wrap-up run on holes 7, 8 and 9. "If it wasn't for the last three holes, it would've been a disaster.

"I hit every green -- I just missed a lot of putts inside five and 10 feet. I left a lot of shots out there."

Yip's solid round came in near-pristine conditions while playing in the morning on a track known for its blustery weather.

"I grew up here playing in the wind, so it won't be much of an issue for me," Yip said. "So I hope it does get windy."

Mother Nature did blow in a stiff breeze later in the day, but it didn't seem to mess up Mexico's Benjamin Alvarado. The third highest money earner on the CanTour season was the only player to post an 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."

For Yip, a few home-course butterflies likely kept him from taking outright control of the leaderboard.

"Honestly, yes," said Yip, when asked if he was nervous for his first pro round on the track on which he grew up playing. "Because there's a lot of expectations on me being from here.

"On the front nine, I did miss a lot of putts on the greens, so I did feel the nerves."

All totaled, Yip figures he's played in the neighbourhood of 1,500 rounds on Bearspaw.

"It does help to have played so many -- there's a lot of blind shots here," Yip added. "I know all the lines, and I took advantage of them (Thursday)."

todd.saelhof@sunmedia.ca Twitter@SaelhofGolf


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