England's Skinns fires 62 to seize lead at PGA Canadian Open

American Sean O'Hair matched his lowest career US PGA Tour round with a seven-under 63 to share second after the first round of the Canadian Open (Minas Panagiotakis)
American Sean O'Hair matched his lowest career US PGA Tour round with a seven-under 63 to share second after the first round of the Canadian Open (Minas Panagiotakis)

David Skinns sank a birdie putt from just inside 47 feet on his penultimate hole to grab a one-stroke lead after Thursday's first round of the US PGA Canadian Open.

The 42-year-old Englishman, chasing his first PGA Tour title, also reeled off six birdies in seven holes to fire an eight-under par 62 to lead after 18 holes at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in suburban Toronto.

"Drove it pretty well," Skinns said. "I left myself in a lot of good spots. Around here, it seems like that's half the battle to give yourself birdie looks. I was able to attack some pins."

World number 144 Skinns, who made the cut in only 20 of his 42 prior PGA events, fired a bogey-free late afternoon round to swipe the lead with Americans Sean O'Hair and Sam Burns one stroke back on 63.

Scotsman Robert MacIntyre, who birdied four of his first six holes, was fourth on 64 with American Ryan Palmer on 65 and third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, seeking his third victory in the past four Canadian Opens, in a sixth-place pack on 66.

Skinns shared fourth at the Cognizant Classic and seventh at the Houston Open, both in March, for his best tour finishes.

"Once you know your good golf can compete, it's a lot easier to trust that and to have those feelings of comfort a little more," Skinns said.

Asked what a victory would mean, Skinns said, "I think everyone knows the answer to that. I've been working at it for 20-something years. I've got to play tomorrow first, though."

Back-nine starter Skinns sank a birdie putt from just inside four feet at the 12th, then began his run with tap-in birdies at the 17th and 18th.

He followed with a 14-foot birdie putt at the first, a 35-footer at the third, a tap-in birdie at the fourth and a six-foot birdie putt at the fifth hole to grab a share of the lead.

Skinns then added his final birdie on a long-range putt at the par-3 eighth.

O'Hair matched his career-low in 1,332 PGA Tour stroke-play rounds, having last shot a 63 in 2011, after a whirlwind journey from Texas to Canada that ended Wednesday night before a 5:56 a.m. Thursday tee time.

"I was exhausted," O'Hair said. "So, I was kind of in a fog today because I was just so tired, but it worked out."

O'Hair's bogey-free round included a 27-foot birdie putt at the fourth and a 27-foot eagle putt at 17.

O'Hair, who battled mononucleosis the past six weeks, was the last player in the field after others withdrew. Storms canceled his planes from Texas until late Wednesday.

"To come out here and shoot the score I did was definitely kind of a shocker," he said.

Burns eagled the only two par-5 holes on the rain-softened course, sinking a 10-foot putt at the fourth and holing out from just inside 38 feet at the 17th.

"That was really the difference in my round," he said. "Making two eagles kind of kick started me and it was overall a solid round."

- 'Good day's work' -

McIlroy seeks a third Canadian Open title after 2019 at Hamilton and, after the event went unplayed for two years due to Covid-19, in 2022 at nearby Toronto.

McIlroy's bogey-free 66 saw him make four birdie putts from inside eight feet.

"Four birdies there, no bogeys was a good day's work," said McIlroy, who won two of his past three starts.

"I've played well the last few weeks. Hopefully I can just keep that going."