The Players Cup
July 12-15, 2012
Pine Ridge Golf Club (36-35) Par 71
Winner's share: $24,000
27 degrees Celsius, wind 5 km/h
First Round Leaderboard
Alex Quiroz, Mexico 65 (-6)
Josh Habig, San Diego, CA 66 (-5)
Chris Killmer, Bellingham, WA 66 (-5)
Alan McLean, Scotland 66 (-5)
Michael McCabe, Thousand Oaks, CA 66 (-5)
8 tied at -4 under
(Winnipeg, MB., July 12, 2012) - Prior success at Pine Ridge Golf Club was the story of day at the 2012 Players Cup. 2002 champion Alex Quiroz of Mexico shot a 6-under 65 to grab the first round lead while 2006 champion Josh Habig of San Diego is just one shot back.
Quiroz, who teed off just after 2 PM local time, posted 2-under on his front nine and went on to post four birdies on his inward nine finishing atop the leaderboard in only his second start of the year.
"I played smart out there and didn't attack any of the pins," said Quiroz, who is making his ninth start at The Players Cup since 2001. "I love this golf course and have a lot of good memories here. I hope to keep this going for the rest of the week," added Quiroz who moonlights as a real estate agent in his homeland of Mexico when not competing in golf tournaments.
Habig, Alan McLean of London, ON, Vince Covello of Philadelphia, PA, Michael McCabe of Thousand Oaks, CA and Chris Killmer of Bellingham, WA all shot 5-under 66 to share second place behind Quiroz. McLean and Killmer were the first to post 5-under as both players went out in the morning draw while Habig, McCabe and Covello teed off in the afternoon.
Among the five players tied for second place, three have had their share of success at the 6,500 par-71 Donald Ross layout.
Habig has a storied history at Pine Ridge, where The Players Cup has been played since 2000. Habig won in 2006 and has only missed one cut in Winnipeg in nine previous starts. In fact, Habig hasn't missed a cut on the Canadian Tour since May of 2010, seeing weekend action in 18 straight events.
"When you know this course, it's easy for you to get the ball around even if you're not hitting it great," admitted Habig, whose lone blemish came on the treacherous 231-yard par-3 9th hole where he made bogey. "This course takes some getting used to, it definitely has a feel and a flow to it. You realize over time where the places to miss are, where you can make putts from and what holes you can be aggressive on," added Habig.
McLean, meanwhile has performed well at Pine Ridge, posting two top-10s in eight starts with only two missed cuts. His best performance came in 2007 where the native South African was tied for third spot heading into the final round before falling out of contention.
"I've got fond memories of this golf course. I've played well here in the past," said McLean, a former European Tour member. "Even when I was playing I Europe I always came back for this event. When you enjoy what's in front of you and you feel comfortable, it can only help."
Covello, meanwhile is making his fourth start at The Players Cup and has made all three cuts and finished tied for fifth in 2011 and sixth alone since 2010. Needless to say the Ponte Vedra Beach, FL resident has developed a strategy for playing the 100 year old Winnipeg track.
"There's definitely some local knowledge to take into consideration this week. The greens are about playing from the proper position and keeping it below the hole," said Covello, who missed the cut last week in Saskatoon. "I hit some awesome golf shots out there and played pretty well coming in," added Covello who birdied the 18th hole to grab a share of the lead.
Killmer, who finished T-13 in his first appearance at The Players Cup in 2011, posted two eagles on the day.
"Any time you can make two eagles in one round you know it's going to be pretty solid round," said Killmer, who chipped in from 20 yards on the drivable par 4 13th for his second eagle of the day. "I really like this course and playing first out was a real advantage today but tomorrow is a new day and I'm looking forward to it," added the University of Washington graduate.
McCabe, also playing in the afternoon, had three birdies and an eagle on a blemish-free scorecard to post his own 5-under 66.
Six Canadian's are currently three shots off the pace including Derek Gillespie, Matt Hoffman, Kevin Stinson, Yohan Benson, Monday qualifier David Lang and Winnipeg native Tyler Mancini.
A total of four past champions are in the field this week including Winnipeg native and 1996 champion Rob McMillan, who toured around his home track posting an even par round of 71. 2007 champion Mike Mezei of Lethbridge, AB finished the day with a 1-under par 70 while 2008 champion Wes Heffernan of Calgary, AB got off to a good start posting 2-under par 69.
Other notable scores on day one in Winnipeg included a 4-under 67 by 2011 Order of Merit winner Jose de Jesus Rodriguez of Mexico, who finished T-3 last week in Saskatoon. 2005 Players Cup runner up Jaime Gomez of McAllen, TX also finished at 4-under along with Aussies Jason Scrivener and Matt Jager. Jon McLean, the son of famed PGA instructor Jim McLean is also at 4-under along with Garrett Sapp of Cerritos, CA and Jose Trauwitz of Mexico. Dakota Dunes Casino Open winner Matt Hill of Sarnia, ON opened with a 1-under par round of 70 while Eugene Wong of North Vancouver, BC, who is making his professional debut shot an even par round of 71.
The second round of The Players Cup begins at 7:30 AM at Pine Ridge Golf Club.