How it Happened: Steele takes Canadian lead

Matt Kuchar during the first round of the PGA Tour's 2013 RBC Canadian Open.

Matt Kuchar during the first round of the PGA Tour's 2013 RBC Canadian Open.

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RBC Heritage

Hilton Head, SC - Harbour Town Golf Links

2:25:12 PM ET. 04/17/2014




PosNameTodayThruScore
T1Matt Kuchar-5F-5
T1Scott Langley-510-5
T1William McGirt-510-5
4James Hahn-34-3
T5Russell Knox-2F-2
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Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Graeme McDowell are among the top-ranked players who made the trip back across the pond for the RBC Canadian Open. But Brendan Steele's 65 put them in his rear-view mirror Thursday as he took the lead at Glen Abbey.

With plenty on the line – it's the final week to qualify for the PGA Championship – don't expect post-Open Championship malaise to set in among much of the field – with more than half shooting par or better.

Recap today's highlights from Oakville, Ontario – and scroll down for our preview coverage and other golf news from the week as well.

• • •

Update No. 33: 7:22 p.m. EDT

Joe Affrunti, seeking to post the low number of the afternoon rounds, finds the green with his approach at the par-5 18th; he converts a long two-putt for par, sealing a 68 that has him among nine golfers T-7 at 4 under.

• • •

Update No. 31: 7:14 p.m. EDT

Canadian Brad Fritsch adds a third straight birdie at the 18th to finish off a 69 and stand T-16 at 3 under – also the low countryman of the day, hailing from Edmonton. Fritsch, who played collegiately at Campbell, finished T-9 at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

• • •

Update No. 30: 7:07 p.m. EDT

Brad Fritsch, one of 19 Canadians in this year's Open, gets to 2 under with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 16-17. Pulling even with David Hearn, Fritsch is tied as the low countryman in the field heading to his day's last hole.

Joe Affrunti, the low man still on the course, pars No. 17 to remain 4 under heading to the last.

• • •

Update No. 29: 6:58 p.m. EDT

The two top-ranked players in the afternoon groups, Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell, finished their day over par after the two highest-ranked in the morning broke par. Let's recap the golfers playing this week and ranked in the world's top 12:

  • Matt Kuchar, No. 6: T-2, 6-under 66
  • Brandt Snedeker, No. 7: T-24, 2-under 70
  • Graeme McDowell, No. 8: T-141, 4-over 76
  • Luke Donald, No. 9: T-93, 1-over 73
  • Charl Schwartzel, No. 12: T-105, 1-over after a 73

• • • 

Update No. 28: 6:49 p.m. EDT

Joe Affrunti birdies the 16th to move to 4 under, a score rarely seen during the afternoon rounds. Affrunti, an Illinois product, finished T-33 at the John Deere Classic two weeks ago and has made the cut in all three of his Tour starts this season.

• • •

Update No. 27: 6:36 p.m. EDT

A par at the 18th gives Gary Woodland one last change of score as he signs for a 69 that saw back-to-back birdies at Nos. 12-13 the only time he repeated the same result in relation to par during his round. In fact, only three times did he string together the same number: fours at Nos. 1-3, threes at Nos. 6-7 and fives to end his day.

• • •

Update No. 26: 6:17 p.m. EDT

True to form today, Gary Woodland's score changes again as he bogeys No. 17 to slip to 3 under, T-15 alongside a dozen others on the mark. Those include Joe Affrunti, who toured the front nine in 2 under, then added a birdie at the 13th; he has two pars since.

• • •

Update No. 25: 6:08 p.m. EDT

Gary Woodland's wild ride continues with a bogey, a birdie and a par; he's 4 under, three back of leader Brendan Steele, with two holes to play.

Three afternoon golfers have added themselves to the list of those carding a 69 for their first round: Roberto Castro, Charley Hoffman and Andres Romero.

• • •

Update No. 24: 5:17 p.m. EDT

It's been 59 years since a Canadian won their country's Open, and David Hearn looks like the brightest hope so far this week. His morning 70 puts him five back of the early lead. Roger Sloan is another shot back at 1 under.

• • •

Update No. 23: 5:11 p.m. EDT

Gary Woodland breaks the afternoon cellophane on 3 under, birdieing the 13th to get to 4 under and T-7, three shots back of leader Brendan Steele. It's also the first time today that Woodland records back-to-back birdies – or any score relative to par on consecutive holes.

• • •

Update No. 23: 5:05 p.m. EDT

Some high finishers at last week's Open Championship are doing OK in Canada too: Hideki Matsuyama, coming off a T-6 finish at Muirfield, shot 3-under 69 today at Glen Abbey. Hunter Mahan, coming off a T-9, shot 5-under 67 today. Brandt Snedeker, coming off a T-11, shot 2-under 70 today. And Justin Leonard, coming off a T-13, shot 1-under 71.

• • •

Update No. 22: 4:47 p.m. EDT

Woody Austin, who ended a winless drought of more than five years last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship, is 11 over through 13 holes despite a par-birdie start.

• • •

Update No. 21: 4:33 p.m. EDT

Gary Woodland pars No. 11 and birdies No. 12 to return to 3 under, good for T-15 with the eight golfers who shot 68 this morning as well as John Huh and Scott Langley.

• • •

Update No. 20: 4:18 p.m. EDT

World Nos. 8-9 golfers Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald are in the afternoon groups, neither showing his top form yet. McDowell is 2 over through 12 with a birdie at No. 2 and three bogeys since, while Donald is 1 over through 12 with three bogeys and two birdies scattered.

• • •

Update No. 19: 4:09 p.m. EDT

Gary Woodland has yet to record the same result on consecutive holes, at least in relation to par: He alternated pars and birdies for the first seven holes, then went bogey-birdie-bogey at Nos. 8-10. He's 2 under.

• • •

Update No. 18: 3:48 p.m. EDT

Two golfers have joined Gary Woodland at 3 under, the low number of the afternoon: John Huh birdied No. 18 as he made the turn, while Scott Langley has three birdies and four pars through seven holes.

• • •

Update No. 17: 3:13 p.m. EDT

John Merrick bogeys to fall to 2 under alongside seven other afternoon golfers, most of them near the turn: Cameron Beckman, Erik Compton, J.J. Henry, John Huh, Scott Langley, Peter Laws and Cameron Tringale. That leaves Gary Woodland as the low man on the course at 3 under.

• • •

Update No. 16: 2:55 p.m. EDT

Gary Woodland joins John Merrick at 3 under early in the afternoon rounds. Woodland, a Kansas product, has birdied Nos. 2, 4 and most recently 6. Merrick has back-to-back pars.

• • •

Update No. 15: 2:36 p.m. EDT

Let's check in on the golfers playing this week and ranked in the world's top 12:

  • Matt Kuchar, No. 6: T-2 at 6 under after a 66
  • Brandt Snedeker, No. 7: T-24 at 2 under after a 70
  • Graeme McDowell, No. 8: T-64 at even par through six holes
  • Luke Donald, No. 9: T-36 at 1 under through seven
  • Charl Schwartzel, No. 12: T-105 at 1 over after a 73

• • •

Update No. 14: 2:18 p.m. EDT

John Merrick gets to 3 under in a hurry, the UCLA product birdieing No. 10 to start his round and repeating the feat twice at Nos. 13-14.

• • •

Update No. 13: 2:07 p.m. EDT

Finishing with back-to-back pars, Scott Gardiner turns in a 66 that has him T-2 at 6 under alongside Scott Brown and Matt Kuchar, one shot back of leader Brendan Steele. Gardiner finished T-15 at the Sony Open in Hawaii to start the season in January; he's made five of 20 cuts.

• • •

Update No. 12: 2:02 p.m. EDT

Eight golfers, meanwhile, are T-15 after turning in a 69: Stuart Appleby, Will Claxton, James Driscoll, James Hahn, Hideki Matsuyama, George McNeill, Rory Sabbatini and Vijay Singh.

• • •

Update No. 11: 1:46 p.m. EDT

Aaron Baddeley, Kevin Chappell and Trevor Immelmann take the number of 68s this morning to eight, joining the group in the clubhouse at 4 under.

• • •

Update No. 10: 1:37 p.m. EDT

A second long string of birdies was not meant to be for Scott Gardiner, as the Australian's first bogey of the day comes at the 16th and drops him back to T-2 at 6 under with two to play.

• • •

Update No. 9: 1:26 p.m. EDT

In the battle for low countryman, David Hearn gets off to a good start with a 2-under 70 while Graham DeLaet turns in an even-par 72. Many of the 19 Canadians in the field tee off in the afternoon today.

• • •

Update No. 8: 1:12 p.m. EDT

Scott Gardiner birdies No. 15 to move into a share of the lead at 7 under, alongside Brendan Steele. Gardiner has had a day of streaks: six straight birdies at Nos. 2-7 followed by seven straight pars at Nos. 8-14.

• • •

Update No. 7: 1:01 p.m. EDT

Kyle Stanley joins the bunch in the clubhouse with a 68 with three straight birdies at Nos. 16-18 to end his round. Stanley, a Clemson product, played in the Open Championship and missed the cut; he finished third at the Memorial in June and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April.

• • •

Update No. 6: 12:52 p.m. EDT

Leader Brendan Steele bogeys the last to give back a stroke and finish with the low round of the day, a 7-under 65. The UC-Riverside product found the rough with his approach shot on the par-4 ninth hole, then couldn't get up and down, but he stands a shot ahead of Matt Kuchar and Scott Brown.

• • •

Update No. 5: 12:43 p.m. EDT

Four 68s have been turned in so far, with Bubba Watson the highest-ranked player on that score. Watson – one of 20 players to make the cut in all three majors so far this season – had four birdies and a bogey before making the turn, then played the back in 1 under.

Chris Kirk, Chez Reavie and Patrick Reed shot 68 as well, with three more players still on the course at 4 under.

• • •

Update No. 4: 12:36 p.m. EDT

Scott Brown birdies the par-5 18th to end his round at 6 under, matching Matt Kuchar's 66 and heading to the clubhouse at T-2. Brown, out of South-Carolina Aiken, played in last week's Open Championship and missed the cut; he won this year's Puerto Rico Open in dramatic fashion.

• • •

Update No. 3: 12:28 p.m. EDT

Hunter Mahan finishes with three straight birdies at Nos. 6-8 and a par at the last for a 67, good for T-4 as he heads in. The Oklahoma State product is coming off a T-9 finish at the Open Championship after playing in the final group at Muirfield on Sunday. David Lingmerth also turns in a 67, birdieing No. 18 to get there.

• • •

Update No. 2: 12:18 p.m. EDT

Matt Kuchar finishes with a par at No. 9 for a 66, heading in T-2 at 6 under. Kuchar's round was led by an eagle at No. 18 to make the turn in 32. The Georgia Tech product birdied twice more at Nos. 2-3, but made no better than par the rest of the way and bogeyed No. 6.

• • •

Update No. 1: 12:12 p.m. EDT

Leader Brendan Steele birdies again at No. 7, moving to 8 under with two holes to play. Steele finished T-6 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.

• • •

Early risers

Brendan Steele took the early lead at 7 under through 15 holes, three under on Nos. 10-18 and then birdieing four of five holes after making the turn.

Matt Kuchar is a shot back, as is Scott Gardiner. Kuchar, however, is 1 over in his last five holes leading up to his final hole of the round. Gardiner birdied six straight from Nos. 2-7 and has all pars otherwise, through 12 holes.

Scott Brown and Chris Kirk are 5 under through 12 holes.

• • •

Slow starters

Nathan Green shot a 6-over 78, while Robert Karlsson and John Rollins have posted 75s; four others are 3 over on their back nines.

• • •

Preview coverage

• Fantasy Tip Sheet: Snedeker, Kuchar lead picks

Normally, the week after a major is calm. That isn't the case this week at the RBC Canadian, with the likes of Bubba Watson, Luke Donald, Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson in the field. Yet, none of those names register as favorites this week in Canada.

• Tee times led by big groups for first and second rounds

Another week, another country for PGA Tour golfers as they return from Scotland to the RBC Canadian Open, led by Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Graeme McDowell as some of the top-ranked golfers in the field's tee times.

Nova Scotia's Banks among 3 Canadians to Monday-qualify

As if we didn't already know his heart was healthy again, Canadian Eric Banks, who plays for the University of Florida, won a playoff to become one of three natives to Monday-qualify for this week's RBC Canadian Open on the PGA Tour.

• • •

Open Championship perspective

• Hate to be Rude: Mickelson cracks top-10 all-time

Phil Mickelson’s remarkable Open Championship victory moves him up to a new level historically. Given a record of 42 Tour victories that includes five major-championship titles, one can sensibly say the left-hander is now one of the 10 best players in modern golf history, columnist Jeff Rude writes.

• Mickelson's nearly a decade removed from label of best to never win a major

The 2003 PGA Championship, in which Shaun Micheel was the surprise winner, marked the last time Phil Mickelson walked away from a major never having won one.

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