Blanks off to good start at Canadian Open

Wes Gilbertson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:11 PM ET

VANCOUVER — The way Kris Blanks sees it, his career is on the upswing.

On Sunday, with his paycheque from the Viking Classic, he leapfrogged legend Arnold Palmer on the PGA Tour's career money list.

And after Thursday's opening-round 67 at the RBC Canadian Open, the 38-year-old from Georgia is in solid position to add to his total this week. Blanks owns a one-shot lead at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, where only 21 golfers in the 156-man field posted red numbers in their first loop of the course.

“I saw that on Twitter and I thought that was pretty funny,” Blanks said of climbing to No. 333 among the PGA Tour's top all-time earners with $1,864,925, a few thousand bucks more than the King earned during his Hall-of-Fame heyday.

“I tweeted back that it was only fair because his career and mine are definitely on the same path.”

Palmer counted 62 victories on the world's top circuit, starting with his triumph as a rookie at the 1955 Canadian Open at Weston Golf & Country Club in Toronto.

Blanks, meanwhile, is still shooting for his first PGA Tour triumph.

“It'd be a good place to start, obviously,” Blanks said. “I'm just looking for positive results every day and at the end of the week, if that means we're holding a trophy, that'd be good.”

He's off to a good start after shaving three strokes off par in Thursday's round, including a drained sand shot for eagle on the seventh hole.

Kingston's Matt McQuillan had the best round of the Canadian contingent at Shaughnessy, firing a 2-under 68. The pack of 11 guys at 2-under also included three-time major champion Ernie Els of South Africa, Australia's Aron Price and Americans Woody Austin, Paul Goydos, Kevin Kisner, Bill Lunde, Ben Martin, Brett Quigley, Bo Van Pelt and Jimmy Walker.

Sean O'Hair climbed to the top of the leaderboard in the afternoon at 4-under but made three straight bogeys and settled for a 1-under 69, the same score as Rickie Fowler, Lucas Glover, Anthony Kim and five others.

David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., fired an even-par 70, while Brad Fritsch of Manotick, Ont., and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., finished at 1-over 71.

Calgary's Stephen Ames carded a 2-over 72, while Mike Weir of Bright's Grove, Ont., struggled to find fairways and finished at 4-over 74.

During a meet-and-greet with a few fans afterward, Weir asked a young boy, “Have you ever seen rough like that?” Eyes as wide as golf balls, he admitted he hadn't. Some of the pros can hardly believe what they're seeing, either.

“They should just put out-of-bounds stakes along both sides of the fairway,” Ames said.

Blanks, whose wife Tammy is from White Rock, B.C., and played some junior events at Shaughnessy, certainly wasn't complaining.

“That's one of the things I'm good at — hitting a lot of fairways, hitting a lot of greens — and this week, I get to be rewarded for that,” Blanks said. “I definitely thought I had an advantage because that's the way I play, but you still have to be able to execute the shots and hit the shots at the right moment. I was fortunate enough to do that today.

“Anything under par, I'll take that. If I shoot under par every day, you're probably going to be in a good spot on Sunday.”


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