Call him the iron man

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

Bob Panasik is a legend in Canadian golf, a Hall of Famer.

For all his accomplishments, he called yesterday at The Marshes at Brookstreet about his best day of iron play -- ever.

The 66-year-old Windsor native holed out from 129 yards for an eagle on the sixth hole and hit it within three inches on two other holes for birdies on his way to an even-par 72 and a share of the lead after the first round of the BreckonRidge Canadian PGA Seniors Championship.

Yvan Beauchemin of Louiseville, Que., a seniors rookie who turned 50 in May, also had a 72, as did John C. Davis of Waterdown.

Nepean's Graham Gunn, the 2006 champion, had a 73, while defending champ Dave Barr of Kelowna, B.C., shot 77 and is tied for 20th.

Panasik started on the back nine with two bogeys before the rain and nasty conditions saw the players pulled off the course for about a 90-minute delay. When play resumed, Panasik hit his pitching wedge from 117 yards to one inch on the 13th hole.

After making the turn in 2-over 38, he hit a 6-iron on the first hole to three inches for another birdie, which got Panasik and fellow competitor Greg Pidlaski talking.

"Greg and I were kidding and he said, 'you've got to line those up.' On the sixth hole, I had 129 yards and it went right into the hole," said Panasik, a three-time Canadian PGA Seniors champ. "That's the highlight of the round, maybe the best iron play I ever played. Two birdies and an eagle and the total distance was not 12 inches."

More like less than six.

Beauchemin, a dominant player in Quebec, hit 17 greens, birdied the 13th (he started on the back nine as well) and three-putted the third for his lone bogey. The four-time national club pro champion is looking forward to having a shot at his first CPGA Seniors Championship.

"It's good any time you have a chance for a national title," he said. "I have some trophies at home and the national titles have a special place."

Gunn, playing with Barr, assessed the conditions in the morning and knew par would be a good score.

"Unless it was 50 degrees out, I don't know how it could have played tougher," said Gunn, who suffered a double-bogey on the par-3 12th.

He has been working on a swing change this year to improve his consistency and accuracy with his irons, with mixed results.

"(The year) has been an adventure," said Gunn, who has been playing mini-tours in Florida and Texas and has a win and a runner-up finish in the South Texas PGA Senior Series. "You start out with such great expectations about things and sometimes they come to fruition and sometimes they don't. The older you get, the longer it seems to take to implement (a change). There are flashes of brilliance and other flashes that are just blinding."

Panasik, meanwhile, has changed his whole approach to warming up. He doesn't hit full shots before a round anymore, nothing more than maybe 30 yards. He said everything you need for the full swing is in a chip: Tempo, drawing a line, the need to stay steady and in balance and a feel for the clubhead.

CHIPPING GREEN TO TEE

"Those four things make you a golfer. I made the decision in March to quit hitting balls. I go from the chipping green to the tee."

Panasik pointed to three key instances where chipping and pitching influenced his round. He chipped it up to a few inches from 90 feet on 16, knocked a 9-iron into the bank of the collection area to 2 1/2 feet from the right of the 17th green to a close pin and knocked a pitching wedge from 35 yards to a foot on the tough par-4 18th to save par.

"There's the turning point. If I bogey those three in a row, the day is not happening. Where's the 72? It's not in driving the ball," said Panasik. "Any 14-handicapper who wants to get down to an eight, chip. You can't chip enough."


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