Ontario - Zach Johnson's putting coach has another student hoping to find
his way into the winner's circle at a national golf championship.
American Vaughn Taylor, who like British Open champion Johnson works with
Pat O'Brien, was just a shot behind early leader Emiliano Grillo of Argentina
in the Canadian Open first round on Thursday.
Grillo checked in with a bogey-free, eight-under 64 while Taylor, an
Augusta, Georgia resident, also fired eight birdies to go along with a bogey
for an opening 65 at the Glen Abbey layout.
American Steve Wheatcroft, South African Tyrone Van Aswegen and Australian
amateur Ryan Ruffels were next best at six-under.
They were followed by Americans Alex Prugh, Eric Axley, William McGirt and
Jim Herman at five-under as the field took advantage of the firm conditions.
Axley made three eagles in his round.
Among the big names competing this week, American world number three Bubba
Watson and compatriot Jim Furyk, a twice former Canadian Open champion who is
ranked seventh, both opened with 68s.
South African Tim Clark, who clinched last year's title at Royal Montreal by
one shot, carded an even-par 72.
The 39-year-old Taylor is 10 years removed since he successfully defended
his PGA Tour title at the Reno-Tahoe Open.
He had putting coach O'Brien meet him at the Barbasol Championship in
Alabama last week to help fine-tune his putting stroke and that lesson resulted
in a tie for 10th, only Taylor's second top-10 of the season.
"(O'Brien is) an awesome influence in my life and my game, and I
appreciate him," said the 2006 United States Ryder Cup member, who began
working with O'Brien in 2000.
Taylor made headlines last summer when his fishing boat capsised due to
rough conditions on Thurmond Lake near his Augusta home. He was not wearing a
life jacket and had to swim to shore, where park rangers rescued him.
"I made a lot of mistakes that day, just being careless," he said.
"Every time I go out there, I try not make the same mistakes and realise
how precious life is."
Leading scores after Thursday's opening round of the USPGA Tour's Canadian Open (USA unless noted, par-72, a-amateur):
64 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG)
65 - Vaughn Taylor, Brian Harman
66 - Erik Compton, Steve Wheatcroft, Tyrone Van Aswegen (RSA), a-Ryan Ruffels (AUS)
- Chad Campbell, Robert Garrigus, Johnson Wagner, Eric Axley, Alex
Prugh, William McGirt, Jim Herman, Chesson Hadley, JJ Spaun
Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, Neal Lancaster, Heath Slocum, Ricky Barnes,
Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Andres Romero, Jason Day (AUS), Martin
Flores, Colt Knost, Noh Seung-Yul (KOR), Scott Pinckney, Blayne Barber,
Brooks Koepka, Austin Cook