Hughes chasing Choi for amateur crown

Defending Canadian Amateur champion Mackenzie Hughes (Photo: Golf Association of Ontario)

With the opening round in the books, Toronto’s Albin Choi holds the early lead at the Investors Group Ontario Amateur Championship hosted by The Summit Golf and Country Club in Richmond Hill.

Choi, a member Team Canada and a former Canadian Amateur champion (2010), opened with a four-under par 67 to sit atop the leader board. The Beacon Hall Golf Club member put together a solid round featuring five birdies and a single bogey to secure a one stroke lead over the field of Ontario’s best amateur golfers.

Close at Choi’s heels is defending Canadian Amateur champion and Choi’s national teammate, Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, who delivered a three-under par 68. The Kent State University men’s golf team member is in the hunt for his first Ontario Amateur crown before making his PGA Tour debut in two weeks at the RBC Canadian Open in Hamilton.

Hughes earned an exemption into that event with his national amateur victory in 2011.

Mississauga’s Graham Baillargeon sits in third after an opening round 69, followed by three-time Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur champion and 2008 Ontario Amateur champion Dave Bunker of Woodbridge. The Brampton Golf Club member sits tied for fourth place alongside Listowel’s Corey Conners after both carded identical one-under par 70’s.

Conners became the youngest-ever Ontario Amateur champion after his victory in 2010 at age 18. Also tied for fourth is Un Cho of Ancaster and Zack Kempa of Brantford.

Scores for other Golden Horseshoe area golfers included Michael Lancaster of Ancaster and the Hamilton G & CC. He is tied for eighth with an even-par 71. Tied for 23rd are Robert Ellis of St. Catharines (St. Catharines G&CC) and Blair Hamilton of Burlington (Hidden Lake GC) with 73s. Tied at 32ndare Oakville’s Brian Churchill-Smith (Toronto Golf Club) and Luke Ovenden of Georgetown (The Club at North Halton) with 74s. Shooting 75s to tie for 46th are Oakville’s Matt Capern (Glencairn Golf Club), Burlington’s Brad Altenhoff (Hidden Lake GC), and Ancaster’s Paul Lang (Beverly G&CC). Hamilton’s Luke Atack, a public course player, is tied for 63rd after carding a 76.

Oakville’s Scott Banks (Blue Springs Golf Club) and Burlington’s Sean Bozuk (Greystone Golf Club) had 77s and are tied in the 72nd spot. The trio of Andrew Cardin, Milton (Blue Springs Golf Club), Ryan Delisle, Hamilton (Beverly G&CC), and Brent Mcclung, Burlington (Hidden Lake GC) share the 87th position with 78s.

Hamilton’s public player David Crawford has a share of the 103rd spot with his 79.

Other scores were: Dan Hyatt, St. Catharines, St. Catharines G&CC, 80, tied for 116th; Mike Dinner, Burlington, Eagle Ridge Golf Club, 81, for 127th; Stephen Bardswick, Oakville, public player, 84, tied for 140th; Jeffrey Clarke, Milton, Glencairn Golf Club, 85, tied for 144th; Brad Currier, Oakville, Trafalgar G&CC, 87, tied for 150th with Cameron Garon, Dundas, Dundas Valley G&CC, with 87s.

The Investors Group Ontario Amateur Championship is being played for the 90th time this summer, and is being hosted by The Summit Golf and Country Club at the height of its 100th anniversary celebrations. This year marks the seventh time that Summit has hosted the storied event, and the challenging 6,861-yard layout is setting the stage for a tough battle to the finish for the field of Ontario’s best amateurs.

Competitors are also vying for 60 quota spots to compete in the 2012 Canadian Men’s Amateur, co-hosted by Camelot Golf & Country Club and Club de golf Outaouais, Aug. 7-10. The winner of that event earns an exemption into the 2013 RBC Canadian Open and the 2012 US Amateur.