Calgary – Rockville, Maryland’s Daniel Balin and Peterborough, Ont.’s Ted Brown shared the lead at 8-under par when play was suspended due to dangerous weather on Thursday at the ATB Financial Classic. Balin shot 64 to take the clubhouse lead, while Brown was 8-under through 15 holes.
The pair was one stroke ahead of defending champion Joe Panzeri of Meridian, Idaho and Linus Gillgren of Sweden, who shot a pair of 65s earlier in the day.
“I hit it pretty solid all day. I got a couple of good breaks to start off my round and didn’t really hit it off line, so I was able to take advantage of a few of the opportunities I had and just played solid,” said Balin, who recently became a PGA Tour Canada member thanks to some timely play earlier in the season.
A teaching pro out of Burning Tree Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, Balin has played in the last four PGA Championships thanks to solid performances in the Professional National Championship, and recently earned conditional status as one of the top three non-members on the Order of Merit through the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel. He open qualified into the field at the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel, where he finished in the top 20 to gain entry into the following week’s The Players Cup, where he finished tied for 13th. His earnings were enough to put him 52nd on the Order of Merit six events, second among non-members.
“I just needed to go out and play,” said Balin, who also plays on NEC Series – PGA Tour Latinoamérica, where he has two top-10 finishes. “I finished top 20 in Saskatoon as well as the next week and found out there were three spots for non-members. I’m excited that I can come out here and hopefully play the rest of the events.”
With his number of starts on PGA Tour Canada and in South America making him ineligible to play the PGA Championship again this year, Balin has changed his focus towards a goal of making it to the PGA Tour as a full-time tour player.
“It’s a bit of a downer with that being always something to look forward to, but at the end of the day, trying to play full time, it’s something that I had to give up,” said Balin. “I experienced it four years in a row playing in a major, and I figured the next time I play will hopefully be as a player and not as a teaching pro or club professional.”
Brown, who has been named Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week twice in his first season on PGA Tour Canada, continued what has been a strong season with a good start on Thursday to sit one shot ahead of Gillgren and Panzeri, who is looking to defend his title in Calgary.