Ontario team leads first round

JOHN HERBERT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

Members at the Oaks Golf and Country Club have long known if you play the par-3 holes well you score well.

Cobourg's Chris Markle found that out yesterday in the first round of the Canadian Mid-Amateur championship, making four birdies and two pars on the six par-3 holes en route to a six-under 66 and the first-round lead.

The 46-year-old Markle, who works for a company that makes dashboards for automobiles, takes a one-stroke lead over Alberta amateur champion Kris Wasylowich, 27, who quit school a few years ago to work on his game 10 hours a day, into today's second round of the 72-hole tournament.

Markle's 66 was a career best and matched the Oaks' competitive course record.

"I just hit my irons good and putted well," said Markle, Ontario Mid-Amateur champion five years ago.

Markle said he played a strategic game at the Oaks on the par-5 holes -- all six of them -- which he couldn't reach in two shots like some of the longer hitters in the field. Markle said he "played safe" on the par-5s laying up on his second shots with irons to leave himself nine or wedges to greens.

Markle said he wasn't getting overly excited about holding the first round lead, especially when he looks over his shoulder at the leaderboard.

"The swing could be different tomorrow," he said.

It's not just the 27-year-old Wasylowich who has Markle in his sights. Dave Bunker, the Ontario Mid-Amateur champion, shot 68 and is two shots back. Also at 68 is Ben Griffin of Victoria, B.C., while Scott Sinclair of Islington carded a 69.

Three players shot 70 including Jay Campbell of London, who plays out of Westminster Trails.

Former Londoner Bill Hutcheson and Colin Glasgow and Jeff Van Vliet of London were in a group at 72.

Oaks veteran Warren Sye, a two-time Canadian and five- time Ontario Amateur champion, fired a 75.

With most of the attention yesterday focused on Wasylowich and Bunker, the two provincial champions, who played in the same threesome and wore almost identical blue golf shirts. Yesterday was a friendly match between the pair who went head-to-head in the first round of the Canadian Amateur last week in Saskatoon with Wasylowich winning on the 23rd hole. Wasylowich is also the defending Canadian Mid-Amateur champion and Bunker finished third last year.

Bunker led Wasylowich most of the day until the Alberta golfer , who played the Oaks front nine as his second nine, birdied the 5th, 6th and 7th.

"He's a great guy to play with," Wasylowich said. "We had a good time on the course. This is only the first round of four rounds so you shouldn't be stressed out."

Friday could be different.

Wasylowich said the friendly banter could end on the final nine holes if they are both in contention.

Bunker, 42, said he enjoys playing with younger players and long hitters such as Wasylowich.

"We're having fun but I definitely want to beat him. He beat me the last week and again today."

The Ontario team of Bunker, Markle, former Western golfer Scott Hickerson and Jesse Maytham leads the interprovincial competition by one stroke over Alberta heading into today's final round of matches.

The field will also be trimmed to the low 70s and ties.


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