Coming off the thrilling climax of the British Open, the PGA Tour returned with the RBC Canadian Open this week. Luke List and Dustin Johnson carry a one-shot lead after the first round from Oakville, Ontario.
List, who is ranked 309th in the Official World Golf Rankings, and Johnson opened the tournament with identical 66 scores.
There's not a lot of breathing room for List and Johnson, who have four players behind them tied at five under and four more at four under.
Here's the full leaderboard after Thursday's opening round:
Johnson moved into a tie for the lead by hitting this eagle on the 18th hole, via the PGA Tour:
It seemed like it would be a good day for Johnson when he managed to hit this shot on the 10th hole after hitting his drive way off target, via PGA Tour:
This extends the best stretch of Johnson's career. He has not finished lower than ninth in any tournament since the Memorial Tournament, including back-to-back wins at the U.S. Open and WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
There is a tight race for PGA Tour Player of the Year so far, with Johnson and Jason Day being the clear standouts. A win for Johnson this weekend would give him three on the year and a firm grip on the top honor, even though there is a long way to go before things are decided.
Per the PGA Tour on Twitter, List's rise to the top of the leaderboard is shocking based on his recent results:
The 31-year-old has just one professional victory on his resume, the South Georgia Classic on the Nationwide Tour in 2012. He does have two top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season, most recently at the Honda Classic in February.
List was one of the few players who were able to figure out the difficult Glen Abbey course. Per John Chidley-Hill of the Canadian Press (via the Globe and Mail), the greens and fairways were playing fast because of the hot temperatures on Thursday.
Day, who won this tournament last year, said that hitting the high grass was doom for everyone:
If you miss the fairway, you’re pretty much done, there’s no chance of keeping it on the green. My mentality is just trying to get it up there as far as I can. As long I can just keep driving it straight, try to get up there somewhere around the green, if I miss it then I’ve got a wedge in my hand and hopefully I can hit it high and get it stuck on the green.
Day was able to succeed despite his claims about needing to find the fairway. He shot three under, yet his driving accuracy was just 28.6 percent, and he hit just 50 percent of his greens in regulation.
After starting on the back nine, Day had his best moment on the second hole with this shot just off the green, via the PGA Tour:
This was a nice rebound round for Day, who battled his way through the British Open before finishing a disappointing 22nd at one over. He's looking for his first win since the Players Championship in May, so his three-under start is a reason for him to be optimistic.
The top of the leaderboard features a number of players who are looking to make their mark on the PGA Tour. Chesson Hadley, Kelly Kraft, Jon Rahm and amateur Jared du Toit comprise the quartet that is tied for third place.
Hadley does have one previous victory on the PGA Tour in 2014, but Kraft, Rahm and du Toit are newcomers to this stage.
Tim Mickelson, younger brother of Phil and du Toit's former coach at Arizona State, was unsurprisingly enthusiastic to see the Canadian's breakout performance:
Ironically, there hasn't been an amateur winner on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open. There is still a long road ahead for du Toit, but this is a great start for the young star.
Coming off the insanity of last week, which was really a two-horse race all weekend, getting a jumbled leaderboard at the RBC Canadian Open is good news for the PGA Tour.
Making the news even better is the leaderboard features a mix of top stars such as Day and Johnson and new players who are looking to make a statement. There is going to be more turnover on Friday, but the way Johnson ended the first round makes him the favorite.
Stats per PGATour.com.