Canadian amateur one off pace

Montreal - Canadian amateur Taylor Pendrith was just one shot behind leaders Tim Petrovic and Michael Putnam Thursday after the first round of the US PGA Tour's Canadian Open.

Pendrith birdied the final hole at Royal Montreal Golf Club to join American Kyle Stanley in third place on five-under 65 - and put himself at the head of a Canadian contingent trying to break a 60-year title drought in their home open championship.

The 23-year-old had earlier rolled in a 29-foot birdie putt on the par-three 13th and nearly holed an even longer attempt at 17.

Petrovic posted three birdies on the trot from the second hole and added another on the seventh before eagling the par-five 12th. His bogey-free 64 was a strong start to a bid for a second career PGA Tour title.

Putnam, seeking his first PGA Tour crown, also shot a 64 without a bogey. He opened at the 10th tee and birdied 12 and 17, then picked up birdies at the second, third, fifth and eighth coming in.

Stanley also teed off on 10 and made five birdies in his first nine holes.

He gave back a stroke at the third, but birdied the sixth to finish the day one off the pace.

A big group on four-under 66 included former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Australians Robert Allenby and Greg Chalmers and South Korean Charlie Wi.

Jim Furyk, coming off a fourth-place finish at the British Open, and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano were in another big bunch on three-under par 67.

Putnam's 64 was the lowest round of his PGA Tour career.

"Obviously it was playing easy," he said of Royal Montreal's Blue Course.

"I hit a lot of fairways and I hit a lot of greens. It got windy there this afternoon and it was tough golfing but somehow I was able to keep it in the fairway and take advantage of the soft greens, get a couple shots close and make a couple of five-to-10 foot putts."

Petrovic, who got into the field only after the withdrawal of Benjamin Alvarado, made the most of his opportunity.

"I really didn't set my expectations high because I got in late," he said. "It wasn't that I was playing conservative, I was just trying to hit fairways and greens just to see the golf course."

Pendrith found himself with a share of second after his first ever round in a PGA Tour event.

He said he tried to focus on his game rather than distractions offered by the tournament - and certainly wasn't thinking about the fact that the last Canadian to win this title was Pat Fletcher in 1954.

"I was just trying to go out there and play golf and do my own thing, not really worry to much about what was going on around me," Pendrith said. "First tee, first hole there was a lot going on, but once I got through that I felt comfortable and did my own thing."

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell delivered the day's highlight, holing his approach at the par-four 11th from 213 yards out for an eagle.

He was among a group on two-under 68.

Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the US PGA Tour $5.7 million Canadian Open (USA unless noted, a denotes amateur, par-70):

64 - Michael Putnam, Tim Petrovic

65 - Kyle Stanley, a-Taylor Pendrith (CAN)

66 - Justin Hicks, Charlie Wi (KOR), Greg Chalmers (AUS), Nick Watney, Robert Allenby (AUS), Troy Merritt, Bo Van Pelt, Dicky Pride, Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Jason Bohn, Joel Dahmen

67 - Tim Wilkinson (NZL), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP), Matt Bettencourt, Jerry Kelly, Tim Clark (RSA), Scott Brown, Ken Duke, Andrew Svoboda, Bryce Molder, Nathan Green (AUS), Alex Prugh, David Hearn (CAN), Charlie Beljan, Ben Curtis, Jim Furyk, J.J. Henry

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