Furyk, Rose shoot 63s to top Canadian Open leaderboard

Friday, September 8th 2006, 7:00 am
By: News On 6

ANCASTER, Ontario (AP) _ Jim Furyk and Justin Rose figured they would like the Hamilton Golf and Country Club course after listening to their peers rave about the 90-year-old gem on the rim of the Niagara Escarpment.

They were right. And the traditional layout even appeared to be built for their precision games Thursday in the first round of the Canadian Open.

Taking advantage of perfect scoring conditions, Furyk and Rose shot the lowest rounds in professional play on the course, 7-under 63s that left them a stroke ahead of Brandt Jobe, Nathan Green and Frank Lickliter II on the rain-softened layout.

``It's as beautiful and as great a golf course as what I expected it to be,'' Rose said. ``It's playing really well considering all the rain. ... I like the look of every hole out there. It's a fun course to play.''

Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion at historic Olympia Fields, won the Wachovia Championship in May at old-school Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., for his 11th tour title. He also won the 2003 Buick Open on another traditional course _ tree-lined Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Mich.

``I grew up in Pennsylvania on courses built in the early 1900s _ old, traditional courses. This has that feel,'' said Furyk, making his first appearance in the tournament since 1999. ``I tend to play the golf courses that fit that bill. And this is definitely that style. It's a very good one. I heard coming up here how good the course was and I think it definitely met expectations.''

With the ground still soggy from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto, Furyk and the other morning starters began play in calm, cool conditions. The temperature climbed into the low 70s in the afternoon, but there was no more than a gentle breeze.

``I shot a low number, but I was obviously aided by the weather and the conditions,'' said Furyk, two weeks away from his fifth straight U.S. Ryder Cup appearance.

``We were fortunate that it was soft, but when the golf course gets firm and fast it tends to spread the field out a lot more. It rewards good shots and hinders bad shots. Whereas, when it's soft, you can kind of get away with some stuff.''

Furyk, second on the PGA Tour money list and No. 3 in the world rankings, holed a 9-iron shot from 120 yards for eagle on the 379-yard 12th hole _ his third hole of the day _ and added five birdies in his bogey-free round.

``Weren't any mistakes out there,'' Furyk said. ``I kept the ball in the fairway most of the day and hit quite a few greens.''

Rose, coming off a fourth-place tie Monday in the Deutsche Bank Championship, had six birdies and a bogey in a front-nine 30 and made two more birdies on the back nine, the last a 1-footer after a 30-yard chip on the par-5 17th. The 26-year-old Englishman capped his afternoon round with a 6-foot par putt on the par-4 18th.

``All it is is a good start. You still have to keep going forward,'' Rose said. ``I think this golf course commands respect even though it's playing soft now.''

They broke the course pro record of 64 set by Tommy Armour in the fourth round of the 1930 Canadian Open, a tournament the Silver Scot won in a 36-hole playoff with Leo Diegel. Warren Sye set the overall record of 62 in the 1991 Ontario Amateur.

Jesper Parnevik, Arron Oberholser, Jonathan Byrd, Bubba Watson and Sean O'Hair opened with 65s, and defending champion Mark Calcavecchia topped a group at 66. Mike Weir, trying to become the first Canadian winner in 52 years, had a 71.

When the tournament returned to the Harry S. Colt-designed course in 2003 after a 73-year absence, Bob Tway beat Brad Faxon in a playoff after they finished regulation at 8 under in hard and fast conditions. Vijay Singh, Tom Pernice Jr. and Dennis Paulson had the best scores that year, shooting 65s in the third round.

``It's a completely different golf course,'' Parnevik said.