Toronto (Canada), Jun 9 (IANS): China's Carl Yuan produced some of his best golf in months with a stellar 4-under 68 in the first round of the Canadian Open, leaving him one shot off the lead on a jam-packed leaderboard.
The 26-year-old Yuan has been struggling to find his form in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, making the cut only five times in 16 starts. On Thursday, he opted for a carefree approach which saw him free-wheel his way to seven birdies at Oakdale Golf and Country Club here.
He trails first-round co-leaders -- Aaron Rai, Chesson Hadley, Corey Conners and Justin Lower -- in the US$9 million tournament, with two-time defending champion Rory McIlroy opening with a 71.
Korean S.H. Kim also enjoyed a 68 to share fifth place alongside Yuan, who posted his lowest opening-round score (in an individual tournament) since last October, as he continued to impress in his rookie season. He holds eight top-25 finishes and is chasing for a first PGA Tour victory.
His putter worked like a charm for Yuan as he holed birdie putts of 17 feet, 23 feet and 18 feet on Hole Nos. 12, 16 and 8 respectively on a challenging Oakdale course, and was particularly pleased he salvaged a bogey on the 13th hole, one of three blemishes on his card.
Playing alongside countryman Marty Dou, who carded a 75, Yuan is now determined to keep having fun in an attempt to turn his season around and retain his PGA Tour card, the PGA Tour said in a report.
Missing multiple cuts have certainly been difficult for the talented Chinese, who won once and finished top-10 eight times on the Korn Ferry Tour last season. He is presently ranked 187th on the FedExCup standings.
Among the other Asians in the fray, Chinese Taipei's C.T. Pan opened with a 70 for T29 while Korea's Seungyul Noh carded a 71.