Canadians rally for first-round Spirit lead

Canadians Garrett Rank and Mackenzie Hughes rallied after a bogey-bogey start to the Spirit International Amateur on Wednesday, birdieing 10 of the next 16 holes. Team Canada, which also includes Brook Henderson and Taylor Kim, leads the U.S. by one shot at the best-ball stroke play tournament that features 80 of the top amateurs from 20 countries, playing in two-man, two-woman teams.

Canada is at 12-under 132 at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas.

“It was a tough start,” said Rank, a 24-year-old varsity hockey player and golfer at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. “We obviously had a little talk and settled ourselves down.” 

With six birdies on the day, Hughes is tied with Kelly Kraft, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, in the men’s division. Rank is in a tie for second with five birdies.

Kraft and the U.S. also got off to a slow start as Kraft didn’t make his first birdie until No. 7. Partner Nathan Smith, a three-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, birdied the first hole, but only had two more on the day.

Team USA’s Emily Tubert, a sophomore at Arkansas, also had three birdies, and Austin Ernst, a sophomore at LSU and the reigning NCAA champion, had one. The Americans are at 11 under after Round 1.

Italy is third at 10 under in the combined team competition, and Denmark and Australia are tied for fourth at 8 under.

–Information from The Spirit Golf Association used in this report.

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