Matt Kuchar’s hopes of regaining his balance in the wake of a “crushing” British Open defeat by Jordan Spieth took a hit on Thursday as dizziness hindered his opening round at the Canadian Open.
The American teed off on 10 at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario, and was four-under through 11 holes before he began to feel light-headed late in the round.
After receiving medical attention he completed a one-under par 71, which left him six shots off the lead shared by Hudson Swafford, Brandon Hagy, Matt Every, Kevin Chappell and Ollie Schniederjans.
Swafford rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at the 18th to cap his seven-under 65.
“It’s gettable,” Swafford said after posting eight birdies on the rain-softened course, where thunderstorms halted play for almost two hours in the afternoon.
“It’s about as gettable as I’ve seen this golf course. The greens were perfect, so you can make some putts. I was just trying to give myself as many chances as possible.”
His assessment was borne out by the crowded leaderboard.
Hagy also posted eight birdies with one bogey in a seven-under effort while Every had seven birdies without a bogey and Chappell had two eagles, four birdies and a bogey.
Schneiderjans was the last to join the leading group with a round that included two eagles and three birdies.
He wrapped up shortly before darkness halted play with more than a dozen players still on the course. They were to return Friday morning to complete the round.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson led a group of 11 players in the clubhouse one shot off the lead on six-under 66, nabbing six birdies without a bogey.
Watson played alongside Kuchar and said the Sunday duel with Spieth at Royal Birkdale followed by a trans-Atlantic trip probably took a toll on his fellow American.
“But he’s a strong competitor and he’s fighting through it,” Watson said. “He’ll be ready to go by tomorrow and the weekend.”
Kuchar said he didn’t think the trouble had anything to do with the quick turnaround from Royal Birkdale, where he came up three strokes short of his first major title.
“I’ve had plenty of time to get over the travel,” said Kuchar, who made a double-bogey six at the third and bogeyed his penultimate hole, the eighth. “Hopefully it’s just something that passes real quick.”
Even if he does regain his equilibrium, the jammed leaderboard means there are plenty of players between Kuchar and the leaders.
World number one Dustin Johnson was among 15 players in the clubhouse on five-under 67, a group that also included England’s Ian Poulter.
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