Brent Delahoussaye thought he would be overmatched at St. George's Golf and Country Club. It turns out, the historic course was no match for the former Clemson player whose lone pro victory came in the 2006 Hooters Tour Classic.
The 29-year-old Delahoussaye shot an 8-under 62 on Thursday to match the RBC Canadian Open record and take a two-stroke lead in the national championship.
"I've been hitting it well. I was just getting in my own way," Delahoussaye said. "Today, I was like, you know what, `I'm just going to go out there and play. This course doesn't set up good for me, so I'm just going to go out there with a good attitude and not worry about it.' And look where I am now."
He had an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey in perfect scoring conditions on the Stanley Thompson-designed course, the tree-lined, hilly layout that features thick rough, narrow fairways and undulating greens.
"The key was probably hitting fairways," the short-hitting Delahoussaye said after hitting 13 of 14 fairways in regulation, 14 of 18 greens and needing only 24 putts.
"I woke up this morning and looked at the scores and I was like, `Wow!' I did not see that many low scores out there in the practice round. ... But I am shocked."
Four other players have shot 62s in the Canadian Open, the first three at Glen Abbey. Leonard Thompson set the mark in 1981, Andy Bean matched it in 1983, both at a par of 71, and Greg Norman did it in 1986, when par was 72. Hunter Mahan had a 9-under 62 at Angus Glen in 2007.
Delahoussaye, in the last group of the day off the ninth tee, also broke the course record of 64 set by Canadian George Knudson in 1968, the last time the tournament was played at St. George's.
Vance Veazey and Brock Mackenzie shot 64s, and Mahan, Dean Wilson, Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker, Rich Barcelo, Steve Wheatcroft, Spencer Levin, Daniel Chopra and Brian Stuard had 65s. Seventy of the 156 players broke par and the field average was 69.712.
Delahoussaye, a Q-School graduate making his 14th career PGA Tour start, was 3 under on his first two holes, hitting a 3-iron to 8 feet from 230 yards on the par-5 ninth to set up his eagle and holing a 14-footer on the par-4 10th.
"I was 3 under after two and thinking, `Wow! This could be good," he said.
He birdied the 12th, gave the stroke back with a bogey on the par-3 13th and birdied the 17th to get back to 4 under. He then birdied Nos. 2, 5, 6, and 7 and closed with a par on the par-3 eighth.
The 45-year-old Veazey had 27 putts.
"The putter. That was the key ingredient," Veazey said. "This golf course seems to be about putting it in the fairway and on the greens. You have to hit good shots into the greens because they have slope. And I had a lot of good looks with the putter."
Barcelo had nine birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey. He had seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch, including five in a row on Nos. 4-8.
"Today was an extremely fun day to play golf," Barcelo said. "The weather was nice, the golf course was set up great, the fans were fantastic. ... It's refreshing to see a setup where you have to hit good shots all day long."
Canadian star Mike Weir shot a 72. Fighting tendinitis in his right arm, the 40-year-old Weir is trying to become the first Canadian winner in 56 years and first Canadian-born champion in 96 years.
"It actually felt a lot better today," Weir said. "I don't want to use an excuse like that. I just didn't play well."
Stephen Ames and Jon Mills topped the 18 Canadians at 67.
"I'm surprised how many good scores there are," said Ames, a naturalized Canadian citizen from Trinidad and Tobago. "But the greens are very receptive."
DIVOTS: John Daly opened with a 69. ... Pat Fletcher, born in England, was the last Canadian winner, taking the 1954 event at Point Grey in Vancouver. Carl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914. Albert Murray, a Canadian also born in England, won in 1908 and 1913.Brent Delahoussaye shot an 8-under 62 on Thursday to match the RBC Canadian Open record, making an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey in perfect scoring conditions at historic St. George's.