Canadian Corey Conners led the Canadian Open with three other golfers on Thursday after the first round in Toronto, where Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy had a poor start.
Conners, born in Listowel, less than 150 kilometers from Toronto, signed the first round of five bogey birdies to finish with a 67-shot card, five under par.
The same result was achieved by Englishman Aaron Ray and Americans Justin Lorre and Shison Hadley.
For his part, McElroy, one of the few figures in contention in the tournament, started with a round of 71 (-1) that left him 37th.
Just off the course at Oakdale Golf & The Country Club, the world number three, expressed its relief at the start of the competition and ignored the controversial announcement of the merger between the PGA and LIV Golf circuits, so far strong competitors.
“My job is to play golf,” said McIlroy, winner of the last two editions of the Canadian Open. “So the more I could focus on that and the sparrows and the ghost rather than the stuff that happened in the offices, the happier I was.”
In a much-anticipated press conference, the Northern Irishman announced on Wednesday that the PGA and LIV, the Saudi-funded organization of which he has been a fierce critic, “will be good for golf.”
American Scotty Scheffler and Spain’s John Ramm, the first players in the world rankings, are not competing in the Toronto event, which takes place a week before the US Open, the third Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Ranking after the first round of the Canadian Open (par. 72):
1. Corey Connors (Canada) -5 (67)
. Chaison Hadley (USA) -5 (67)
. Justin Lower (USA) -5 (67)
. Aaron Ray (England) -5 (67)
5. Jonathan Bird (USA) -4 (68)
. Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) -4 (68)
. Bryce Garnett (USA) -4 (68)
. Ryan Gerrard (USA) -4 (68)
. Will Gordon (USA) -4 (68)
. Mark Hubbard (USA) -4 (68)
. Kim Seonghyeon (KOR) -4 (68)
. Brendon Todd (USA) -4 (68)
. Yuan Yechun (CHN) -4 (68)
37. Rory McIlroy (yoke) -1 (71)