NEW GLASGOW, N.S. – Garrett Rank wasted little time in opening his title defence at the 2015 Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Abercrombie Country Club in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Rank was one of three players to register a round below par on the opening day of the nation’s premiere competition for those over 25.
“I was pretty good off the tee today,” reflected the 27-year-old, who tallied five birdies en route to a 5-under 65 performance. “I got it in play and gave myself a lot of chances. I hit a few close and then hit a few really good wedge shots. I tried to give myself as many opportunities as I could from 15 feet all day.”
Rank is the defending champion after claiming the President’s Cup in 2014 following a playoff victory over Rob Couture of Dallas, Texas. The native of Elmira, Ont., recognizes the challenges of playing as a past winner, but likens the experience to the difficulties of participating in the many big events that have highlighted his season.
“There’s a little bit of pressure, but it’s not really anything that’s new or different. There’s pressure playing in the RBC Canadian Open. There’s pressure playing in the Pan Am Games. There’s pressure playing in the U.S. and Canadian Amateurs. You just have to try and take it one shot at a time.”
The former University of Waterloo Warrior remains focused on the task at hand – claiming victory and a prized exemption into the 2016 edition of Canada’s National Open Championship.
“The goal here is to win and get into the RBC Canadian Open again next year,” said Rank. “But you can’t think about that stuff. You’ve just got to worry about playing golf. You just need to stay patient. You can’t try and get too aggressive. If you just keep grinding away and hitting solid shots, hopefully some good scores will follow.”
Sitting with a share of second is another competitor looking to build upon his legacy at this championship – Garth Collings of Matlock, Man. The 57-year-old, who won this competition in 2003, opened with three birdies across a bogey-free front nine and would go on to finish 1-under on the day. Tyler Wright of Regina, Sask., notched three birdies to also end the first day of competition tied for runner-up.
With his round of 69, Collings leads the over-40 Mid-Master division. Woodbridge, Ont., product Dave Bunker’s 18 even-par holes has him in second. The 50-year-old is a three-time Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur champion, having collected three consecutive titles from 2008-2010. Stony Plain, Alta., native Jeff Murdoch is in third at 1-over 71.
Team Ontario leads the inter-provincial competition that is played concurrently with the first 36 holes of the tournament. Comprised of Garrett Rank, New Hamburg, Ont., native Josh Hunke and Toronto’s Kevin Fawcett, the trio registered a combined score of 3-under 137 to lead by five strokes.
In second place totaling 142 is Team Alberta made up of Jeff Murdoch, Kevin Temple (Calgary) and Brandon Markiw (Edmonton). Rounding out the top-three is the host province – Team Nova Scotia. The efforts of Stuart Lenehan (Dartmouth, N.S.), Paul Coulson (Biblehill, N.S.) and Glenn Robinson (Middle Sackville, N.S.) have the hosts at 4-over 144. British Columbia, which hoisted the R. Bruce Forbes Trophy in 2014 as team champions, currently sits T6 at 148.
Following the two opening rounds of play, the field will be reduced to the low 70 competitors and ties.
For more information regarding the 2015 Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship, please visit the tournament website.