Mackenzie Hughes is T9, just three shots back after an opening-round 67 on Thursday. Photo credit: Associated Press via PGA Tour.

They say you can’t win a golf tournament on Thursday, but you can lose it. 

Most weeks that’s true, with the Friday cut dividing the weekend field in half. This week’s ZOZO Championship from Thousand Oaks, California is the exception, however. A shortened field of only 77 participants presents the players with a rare opportunity to play into the weekend no matter performance on Thursday and Friday.

So while Abbotsford, BC’s Adam Hadwin doesn’t have to worry about falling below the cut line this week, he is about as close as one can get to losing a tournament on the first day. He stumbled out of the gate, netting a bogey and two doubles on his front nine, making the turn at 41 (+5). He was able to right the ship a bit on the back nine, stealing a birdie on the par-3 17th and another on the par-4 18th for an opening-round 75 (+3). Despite the late recovery, Hadwin sits tied for 73rd, 11 shots back of leader Sebastián Muñoz. If you’re looking for a silver lining, he is one stroke ahead of Tiger Woods.

The three other Canadians in the field this week fared much better than Hadwin, with each finishing their opening round under par. Closest to the front of the pack is Hamilton, Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes, who sits at -5 and is tied for 9th place after a flawless bogey-free first round on Thursday. 

Hughes is the highest ranked Canadian man in the World Golf Rankings, currently ranked 52nd, and also finds himself in 17th place in the 2021 FedExCup standings. He’ll look to build on his strong start on Friday when he tees it up alongside Carlos Ortiz and Takumi Kanaya on the 10th hole at 10:56am. 

Trailing just two groups behind Hughes on Friday will be fellow Ontarian Corey Conners, who is incidentally the next highest Canadian on this week’s leaderboard after firing an opening-round 69 (-3). 

Winnipeg’s Nick Taylor will get his day started a little earlier on Friday, teeing off with Kevin Na and Adam Long on the first hole at 10:12am. Taylor, ranked 128th in the world, shot a 2-under 70 on Thursday and is currently tied for 39th. 

All four Canadians in the field this week have at least one PGA Tour win under their belt, with Nick Taylor’s being the most recent. Taylor won the 2020 AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach earlier this year, while Conners, Hadwin, and Hughes last won in 2019, 2017, and 2016, respectively. 

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