BUCKEYE, Ariz. — On a day when all anyone wanted to talk about was the cold and breezy conditions at Verrado Golf Club in Buckeye, Ariz., Kevin Black just wanted to chat about how much he loved playing golf.
It probably didn’t hurt he posted an opening round 3-under-par 69 and leads the Titleist & FootJoy PGA Club Professional Championship of Canada.
“I just love to play golf and especially love playing in these big national championships,” said the head PGA professional at Redwood Meadows Golf & Country Club. “I definitely get that nervous feeling out there on the first tee, but I think it’s great too.”
Black’s impressive first round featured five birdies and a double-bogey on the par-5 15th. The 35-year-old said his game is suited for golf courses like Verrado.
“I’m pretty solid on golf courses where most guys have troubles because I’ll hit a lot of greens,” Black said. “The fairways are pretty wide here, so I was getting it in play off the tee and I putted pretty well too.”
Lurking one shot back of Black sits Danny King, a man whose game seems suited for just about every golf course in 2015. The soon-to-be 48-year-old captured this year’s PGA Championship of Canada at the famed Cabot Links and most recently won the PGA Team Championship with his partner Billy Walsh.
King is also a two-time winner of the PGA Club Professional Championship of Canada. The legendary Gar Hamilton (who is in the field this week) and Yvan Beauchemin hold the record for most PGA Club Professional Championship of Canada wins with four.
“It’d be awesome to get my name alongside Gar in the record books,” King said about the possibility of this third PGA Club Professional Championship of Canada win. “Gar’s always been a mentor of mine and I definitely look up to him.”
Dean North, James Skrypec, Gordon Burns and 2014 PGA Championship of Canada winner Dave Levesque are at 1 under, T3.
Situated in the foothills of the White Tank Mountains, crafted by PGA Tour star Tom Lehman and US Amateur Champion John Fought, the Verrado Golf Club is a spectacular course stretching to over 7,200 yards featuring stunning views, snug box canyons, and considerable elevation changes.
In addition to competing for the overall championship trophy, players in the PGA Club Professional Championship of Canada earn much-coveted ranking points with hopes of moving up on the PGA of Canada Player Rankings presented by RBC. Players who are ranked inside the top 64 following the PGA Club Professional Championship of Canada earn invites into next year’s PGA Championship of Canada at the Victoria Golf Club.
The Inter-Zone Team Championship, which is comprised of four players per zone (and three scores per team counting), is also handed out after 36-holes. Team Ontario—Ian Doig, Ron Kenesky, Matt Peavoy and King—hold a four-shot lead over Team Quebec—Levesque, Vincent Cacchione, Phillippe Mongeau and Eric Laporte—heading Tuesday’s second round.