EDMONTON — Edmonton Country Club’s course record was matched bright and early on Thursday during the first round of the 1932byBateman Open as Hayden Buckley, playing out of the second group of the day, managed eight birdies without a blemish on his card to sign for an opening-round 63.
In his first professional season, Buckley has quickly learned how to adapt on the fly.
Following a T8 finish at the Windsor Championship, an event where Buckley posted four rounds of 68 or lower, including a second-round 64, he decided that it was time for a change.
“I wasn’t comfortable,” said the 2018 Missouri University Male Athlete of the Year. “I’ve always told myself that when I’m comfortable over the ball, I feel like I’ll make putts.
“I’ve played the U.S. Amateur with that putter and shot rounds in the low 60s with it, but there comes a time when you have to make a change.”
Despite three top-10 finishes through the opening five events of the season, Buckley walked into Golf Town in Toronto on Monday before the Osprey Valley Open looking for a way to revamp his game.
“I went in looking for a new grip, but they didn’t have what I wanted, so I grabbed a putter off the rack, hit a few putts with it, and bought it,” said Buckley, who has had the Seemore putter in his bag ever since. “I had one of the best putting weeks that I’ve had in Toronto.”
The 23-year old carried his momentum from the T5 finish into the HFX Pro-Am, where he posted four more under-par scores to place T11 and launch himself into the ninth spot on the Order of Merit.
Working almost exclusively with the new putter during the off-week back home in Tupelo, Mississippi, Buckley credits Thursday’s professional-best score to the efforts he put in on the green last week.
“The week off was huge, most of my time was spent putting, so today, standing over 30-footers, I felt comfortable and was lucky to see a few of those roll in,” said Buckley, who made four 30-foot looks on Thursday. “The biggest issue was getting used to the speed, but I’ve gotten there, and it was a day where I didn’t hit it great, just good enough, but I made a lot of putts.
“You can’t rely on making 30-footers every day, but I’ll take them when they fall.”
David Rose managed a bogey-free 65 and is the low Canadian heading into Friday. The score is the 30-year old’s lowest-career Mackenzie Tour round.
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