Gillespie right at home

MIKE KOREEN -- TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

ANCASTER -- When Derek Gillespie\'s supposed superiors invade his country, the Oshawa native usually stands tall. The Canadian Tour regular, who has played well in big events at home, looked good during the first round of the Canadian Open. Gillespie, who finished third on the Canadian Tour\'s order of merit this year, shot a one-under-par 69 yesterday to tie Mike Weir atop the 19-player Canadian contingent at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

Gillespie made the cut in all three of his previous Canadian Open appearances and was the top Canadian four times in the Nationwide tour\'s Canadian PGA championship, including a tie for fourth place.

\"It\'s just a lot of fun (playing) at home,\" Gillespie, 25, said. \"Birdie or bogey, the fans are always cheering for you, which is nice. I don\'t feel any pressure or anything. There are a lot of friends and family out here to support me and playing at this golf course makes it better.\"

A visit from his coach, Dave Woods, on Tuesday for the first time in about a month may have been the key to Gillespie\'s solid round.

\"I hit a couple of balls and he said, \'What are you doing?\' and I was like \'What do you mean, I don\'t know,\' \" Gillespie said. \"He said, \'You\'re hitting inside and you\'re flat.\' So we worked on a couple of things ... and then I just striped it in the practice round and I hit it great (yesterday).\"

Gillespie got lucky on No. 9 (his 18th) when his tee shot appeared headed out of bounds but bounced off a tree and hit the fairway. He took advantage of the opportunity as he proceeded to drain a 12-foot birdie putt. Gillespie sits three strokes behind leader Hidemichi Tanaka.

\"I\'m not too worried where the leaders are,\" Gillespie said. \"I\'m worried more about my game and what I can do to score the best.\"

Though Gillespie missed out on a top-two Canadian Tour finish -- which comes with a first-round PGA qualifying school bye -- because of a disappointing finish at the final event in Michigan, he said his season has been a success.

\"I just keep on getting better,\" Gillespie said. \"The mental game is getting a lot better and so is course management.\"

Amateur Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., Jon Mills of Brooklin, Ont., Richard Zokol of White Rock, B.C., David Morland IV of Aurora and PGAer Glen Hnatiuk of Selkirk, Man., all shot 71.

Canada\'s other PGA Tour player, Ian Leggatt of Cambridge, carded a 73 after a double-bogey on the par-4 12th.

\"I hit too many bad shots,\" Leggatt said. \"I kind of didn\'t get it close. I drove it in the rough a couple of times on the front nine. Then I got it back and I made a really bad mistake hitting driver off of 12 ... If I would have laid back and hit iron off the tee like I did in the practice rounds, I probably would have been all right.\"

David Hearn of Brantford also had a 73.


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