Oakville, ON – Brendan Steele opened with a 7-under 65 on Thursday to grab a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the Canadian Open.
Steele posted his lowest opening round score of the year at Glen Abbey Golf Club. He has made the cut in three of this last four starts after missing the cut in six straight events.
Matt Kuchar carded a 6-under 66 and was joined in second place by Scott Gardiner and Scott Brown.
Hunter Mahan, who tied for ninth last week at Muirfield, posted a 5-under 67. He shares fifth place with David Lingmerth.
Former Masters champions Trevor Immelman and Bubba Watson are tied for seventh at minus-4. They were joined there by Aaron Baddeley, Chris Kirk, Chez Reavie, Joe Affrunti, Kyle Stanley, Kevin Chappell and Patrick Reed.
Defending champion Scott Piercy opened with a 1-under 71, which left him tied for 41st.
Steele, the 2011 Texas Open winner, started on the back nine Thursday and dropped his approach inside seven feet at the 11th and drained that putt for his first birdie.
After three pars in a row, Steele poured in a 42-footer for birdie at the 15th and made it two in a row as he 2-putted for birdie on No. 16.
Around the turn, Steele birdied the first from four feet out. He followed with a 2-putt birdie at the second to move to 5-under.
Steele drained a 14-foot birdie chance at four before kicking in a short birdie effort at five. He got to minus-8 with a short birdie putt on the seventh. However, Steele missed the ninth green and failed to get up and down for par.
The dropped shot cut Steele's lead to one after the opening round.
"Really just an overall good day. Hit a lot of good shots and was able to hole some putts," Steele stated. "When you have a good round like that and you play that well, you kind of have everything going. But today was probably the most complete round that I've had all year, so that was kind of nice. Didn't miss many greens, didn't hit many shots off line, and I was able to roll a few putts in."
Kuchar also played the back nine first on Thursday. He birdied the 11th, 13th and 16th. He made the turn at minus-5 after an eagle on the par-5 18th. Kuchar played the front nine in 1-under par with two birdies and a bogey.
"It was fun to be out here. It was perfect conditions. I feel like last week, conditions were so challenging and so difficult at the British Open, to come here and to play golf that is more friendly and more what we're used to on the PGA Tour was great," Kuchar said. "The conditions are spectacular. The course is in great shape, we had very little wind, good temperature, so it was a great opportunity to shoot. The par-5s are all attainable and birdiable.
Gardiner poured in six consecutive birdies from the second to the seventh. He played the rest of his round in even-par with a birdie at 15 and a bogey at 16.
Brown had four birdies on the front nine, while making two more birdies on the back nine.
NOTES: Steele missed his career low round by one stroke ... Steele has the first-round lead for the second time, with the first coming that the 2011 Frys.com Open, where he went on to share 11th ... Of the 18 Canadiens in the field this week, David Hearn leads the group after opening with a 2-under 70 ... Last year's tournament was held at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.