OAKVILLE, Ontario (AP) — Mike Weir just finished saying that water-logged Glen Abbey could only get firmer and faster when a clap of thunder forced him to reconsider.
“Maybe not with what’s coming. Maybe not,” Weir said.
That was about the only time he was off-target Thursday in the suspended first round of the Canadian Open. Trying to become the first Canadian winner since 1954, Weir shot a bogey-free 6-under 65 for a share of the lead with Anthony Kim and Eric Axley.
“It played probably about as easy as Glen Abbey can play given the ball’s not running out through the fairways on some of the doglegs,” Weir said. “You just kind of hit it to the corner and it’s just stopping there. … With the greens being soft, you can fly the ball right to the hole and it would stop.”
Richard Johnson, J.P. Hayes, Nicholas Thompson, Ryan Armour and Jason Allred shot 67s on the course saturated by 8 inches of rain in six days. John Senden and Charley Hoffman also were 4 under. Senden played nine holes, and Hoffman completed eight.
Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to use preferred lies.
“We’re playing lift, clean and place and, if you hit fairways, you’re going to have great opportunities to go at flags,” Kim said. “The course isn’t overly long. But if you can hit some 7-irons 15 feet and shake some of those in, you’ll be in good shape. I hit every fairway and that gave me a lot of opportunities to go at some pins.”
Two-time defending champion Jim Furyk, a few minutes away from teeing off when play was suspended because of lightning a little before 1 p.m., was 1 under at the turn.
A brief storm hit at about 1:30 p.m. and waves of showers followed, flooding bunkers and fairways on the course that many players thought would be unplayable after heavy rain Wednesday. Play resumed at about 6:30 p.m., and was suspended because of darkness at 8:49 p.m., leaving the course once again to the weary maintenance crew.
“I heard in the locker room somebody said they were here until 3 in the morning,” Weir said. “I’m sure they got a couple hours of sleep and were right back at it first thing. They’ve had their work cut out and they’ve done a great job. It exceeded my expectations what I thought I was going to see out there.”
Weir’s 65, highlighted by 11 one-putt greens, matched his best score in the tournament and was his first opening sub-70 round of the year. He finished with a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-4 ninth, drawing one last round of cheers from the adoring fans who lined the fairways 10 deep in places.
Trying to become the first Canadian winner since Pat Fletcher in 1954, Weir is back at Glen Abbey for the first time since a playoff loss to Vijay Singh in 2004. The 2003 Masters champion is making his 18th appearance in the event. He missed the cut in his first nine starts – eight at Glen Abbey and one at Royal Montreal.
“I did need to get over the struggles I had around here,” Weir said. “Finally shooting some good rounds in 2004 helped me get over the mental hurdle that I can shoot better than 70 out here.”
With the national championship stuck in a difficult schedule spot after the British Open and before the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship, Weir is skipping the WGC event next week at Firestone.
“This is like a major here and the PGA is a major,” Weir said. “It’s (Firestone) a golf course I’ve never played that well. Of the tournaments coming up, if I was going to skip one, that was going to be it. I really want to be ready for the PGA. The PGA is close to home for me, as well.”
Kim, the Wachovia Championship and AT&T National winner, is coming off a seventh-place tie in the British Open. The 23-year-old American was back in form Thursday after adjusting his swing to cope with the strong wind at Royal Birkdale.
“I really didn’t feel comfortable until today,” Kim said. “Yesterday, playing 15 holes, my game was a little bit off. My putter was off. Everything was just a little bit rusty. I definitely feel like I have my legs under me now.”
Axley, the 2006 Texas Open winner, closed with a 15-foot eagle putt on par-5 18th.
Divots: Corey Pavin was preparing to strike a 2-foot birdie putt on his final hole when play was delayed. He waited nearly six hours before holing out for a 71. … Weir won the Fry’s Electronics Open in October for his eighth PGA Tour title, matching the late George Knudson for the most by a Canadian. … Richard S. Johnson, the U.S. Bank Championship winner Sunday in Milwaukee, shot a 71.