Abbey left defenceless

KEN FIDLIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

OAKVILLE -- After a rain delay that ate up the better part of yesterday's daylight hours, South Korean Kevin Na led a cavalry charge through the gloaming with a back nine of 28 on his way to a round of 63, making a shambles of par in the opening round of the 100th Canadian Open.

On a day when 33 millimetres of rain fell on the fairways and greens of Glen Abbey Golf Club, rendering the course virtually defenceless, 77 of the 107 players who teed off ended the day at even par or better.

That included Na, who swept into the lead with four straight birdies to end his day at nine-under par.

Retief Goosen, a two-time United States Open champ, Scott Verplank, the 2001 winner of the Canadian Open, and Joe Durant, who aced the par-3 seventh hole, sit two strokes behind Na, who birdied seven of the nine holes on the front side.

Thirty-nine players in the field of 146 did not get a chance to hit even one shot yesterday, the result of a seven hour 30 minute weather delay as the skies opened up on Glen Abbey in the early-morning hours.

After getting to four-under-par through 11 holes, Canadian Mike Weir finished with three disappointing bogeys in his final seven to sit at one-under-par 71. Stephen Ames was also at one-under, but played only two holes on the day.

Lowest Canadians on the day are Dustin Risdon and amateur Matt Hill at two-under. Risdon got through 14 holes, Hill through 13.

Na felt the key to his entire round occurred at the 11th hole, his first after the rain delay.

"I pulled my tee shot into some trees and I thought I could hit my second shot over some more tree, and over the creek on to the green.

"We stood there and argued about it for a couple of minutes. I said: 'I can do it.' He (caddie) said: 'No you can't.' He rarely says I can't do something, so he made me pitch out. I ended up making a 15-footer for par, to keep my round going."

Na did not make his first birdie until his seventh hole of the day, No. 16. His birdie there was one of the nine he made on his final 13 holes.

"With the greens so soft, you could be aggressive with your irons," he said. "But you have to hit the fairways because the rough is tough. Keep it in the fairway and you can go pretty low."

Goosen, who broke a four-year PGA Tour drought by winning the Transition Championship in March in Tampa, agreed with Na.

"The conditions were perfect," he said. "I had a lot of birdie chances and the par fives were very good to me."

Goosen teed off at 7:40 a.m. on the back nine, playing one group behind Weir. The South African parred his first three holes before the 52 players who were on the course were called back to the clubhouse to wait out a monsoon-like rainstorm.

The rain finally ended about noon but it took another four hours to prepare the course for further play.

When he went back out at 4:08 p.m., Goosen promptly drained an 18-foot eagle putt at the par-5 13th. He birdied 16, 17 and 18 and then added a fourth birdie at the par-4 second.


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