HIS putter was as friendly as it's been all season, getting Pine Ridge's Josh Wytinck off to a great start at the Canadian Men's Amateur Golf Championship on Monday.
Wytinck made seven birdies en route to a five-under-par 67 at Southwood Golf and Country Club, just one stroke off the first-day lead at the 72-hole national event.
"I've been hitting it well all year," said Wytinck, the 2012 Manitoba Amateur champ and last year's co-player of the year. "I just haven't really made putts. Today I made a few more and it was nice having my brother (15-year-old Zach) here.
"A lot of people say they want to have fun and I don't know if they always mean it but I legitimately did have fun today. I don't see him as much as I'd like to, so it was a good time."
Southwood has certainly offered Wytinck good karma this year. He was part of the University of Manitoba Bisons team that captured the Canadian University and College Championship there in June.
He said there was no pressure in the competitive return to Southwood.
"It's tough to say," he said. "I've just been hitting it so well. Usually I feel pressure when I'm not playing well. I've been hitting it so well, playing so well, I was very confident in myself.
"It's actually even less pressure when I know the course pretty well."
Wytinck said he was helped by the momentum of a quality grouping on Monday. He played with the field's top-ranked amateur, Rico Hoey of California, and Ontario's Tony Gil.
Hoey shot 69 and Gil 70.
"That was one of the most pleasant rounds I've ever had," Wytinck said. "They're two of the nicest guys. I was the only guy in the group who had a bogey and it wasn't even a bogey, it was a double (at the ninth). They're both solid. I'll have to play well to keep up with them tomorrow."
It was a good opening day for a handful of Manitobans.
Elmhurst's Aaron Cockerill began with a two-under 70 at Southwood, while Bret Thompson of Southwood shot two-under 68 at Elmhurst.
Manitoba Amateur champ Todd Fanning of Niakwa opened with a one-under 71 at Southwood.
"I felt like I played average," said Fanning. "This course is pretty easy driving and putting is pretty easy and I drove it well enough to shoot better but I wasn't really sharp."
Fanning had the annoyance of a four-putt double-bogey at the par-three 11th, his second hole of the day, and had 34 putts on his round.
Still, the 46-year-old five-time champion of the Manitoba Amateur, who broke Garth Collings' record with this year's victory -- posting Manitoba Amateur wins 30 years apart -- was looking forward to Round 2 today at Elmhurst.
"Even a guy like myself, there's only six drivers out there and I figure most of these guys won't hit that many," Fanning said. "It'll give more guys a chance, I think.
"Elmhurst is more of a hit it here, hit it here, then be careful. It doesn't lend itself to a long hitter but the best golfer is still going to win. They always do at Elmhurst."
NOTES: The annual 36-hole Willingdon Cup team competition, now reduced to just three players per provincial team, was led by Ontario after Day 1, at seven-under-par. Manitoba, with Fanning's 71 and Charlie Boyechko's 73, was even par and seven back heading into today.
-- Tim Campbell