IT was a perfect day for golf during the first round of the 2014 Nott Autocorp Men's Amateur Championship on Monday.
Despite a little rain near the end -- that prevented some of the players from finishing their rounds -- the low wind and clear skies allowed veteran players Garth Collings and Todd Fanning to breeze through the course at the Links at Quarry Oaks Golf Course. Both players shot five-under 67.
The two seasoned players had company in University of Manitoba Bisons golfer Burke Wiebe, who also scored a 67 to sit in a three-way tie for first place after round one. The first two rounds of this year's championship will play out of Quarry Oaks before the final two rounds are played at Niakwa Country Club, where the 23-year-old Burke is a member.
"The whole day, kinda going in, my goal was just trying to hit the fairway, just kinda keep it in play regardless of whether I had like 100 yards or 200 yards," Burke said. "It's all about hitting the fairways and I did a pretty good job of that today."
Burke's round was highlighted by a putt from about 22 feet on the tricky, island-green par-3 15th hole. The birdie was one of six on the day for Burke, giving him one of the best back-nine scores at three-under 33.
"My goal is kinda just to be a little more in contention than the past couple years," said Burke, his best finish at this tournament being seventh place four years ago. "The past few years haven't been my best and I feel like I've played a lot better throughout the year than I have in this tournament throughout the past couple of years."
Another player looking to prove he belongs is Aaron Cockerill, who shot a three-under 69 and sits alone in fifth place behind another Bison, Charlie Boyechko (four-under 68), and the three leaders. Cockerill has been the runner-up at this tournament the past two years and this time he's here to win, he said.
"I was steady the whole day, I hit all 18 greens," said Cockerill, 22, who plays NCAA division 1 golf at the University of Idaho. "It was just a good ball striking day basically. It was a decent start I guess, at least I didn't get myself out of it. You just got to keep yourself in it in the first day and go from there."
The Teulon native connected with an eagle on the par-5 ninth after two big shots landed him within six feet of the pin. He went on to shoot par on the back nine.
The 2013 Manitoba amateur golfer of year, Josh Wytinck, didn't have his best day on the golf course, shooting a two-over 74 that puts him in a 10-way tie for 18th. One of those players being the red-hot Travis Fredborg.
Fredborg, 18, is coming off winning his second-straight Manitoba juniors title and was named the lowest amateur at the PGA Tour Canada's Players Cup, earlier this month.