The theory still has to be proven over time, but Stephen Ames may have figured out a way to take time off, spend an extended period of time with the family and make it pay off financially.
Before arriving for this week’s RBC Canadian Open, Ames last played at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach a month ago, but there weren’t any obvious signs of rust in yesterday’s first round, which he finished three under to lead all Canadians in the field along with Belleville’s Jon Mills.
Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., is at two under, followed by Matt Hill of Bright’s Grove at one under.
“I played well. Conditions were, as expected in the afternoon, a little tougher than they were this morning. I think it shows with the scoring. A lot of the good scores were in the morning, only because the greens got a little bumpy,” said Ames, who is tied for 24th, five shots behind leader Brent Delahoussaye.
“I’m happy with the way things have started,” he added. “I think that was my goal — to try and get as comfortable as I could over the golf ball before I actually pulled the trigger and I think I accomplished my goal.”
Delahoussaye shattered the competitive course record at St. George’s late yesterday afternoon to take a two-shot lead. With its sloping greens and thick, tangled four-inch rough, St. George’s lost a lot of bite with yesterday’s benign conditions as 74 players finished under par.
“I was surprised how many good scores there are,” Ames said.
“The greens are very receptive. They’re soft. I think as the week goes on, it’s probably going to get a little firmer. I think the fairways are getting firmer. It won’t be long before the greens will get faster, if it doesn’t rain. Then, it’s a different golf course again,” he said.
If that happens, the greens will soften on one hand, but the rough will get even more gnarly than it already is, according to Ames, who can see course officials placing pins close to the slopes if the greens soften up.
“It will probably be its next defence. The greens are going to get slower. They can afford to go a little closer to the edge,” said Ames.
PGA Tour regular Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., got it to three under in the early going, but had to settle for even par by the end of the day.
“Normally, the greens are rolling a little faster than this, but out here, because of the slopes, you can’t get them going quite as quickly, so there are a couple of flat putts or slightly uphill putts that I was leaving them six inches, a foot short,” DeLaet said.
“With the greens as soft as they were today, you’ve got to make the 10-foot birdie putts and it just wasn’t happening today,” said DeLaet, realizing a better number is required on Friday to avoid missing the cut.
“The good thing is I’m up bright and early and everything should be soft and smooth and if I can get off to a good start and be done by noon, we’ll see what happens the rest of the day,” DeLaet said.