Canadian Hearn impressive in his British Open debut
Prior to this week, Canadian golfer David Hearn had never even been to Europe, let alone played any golf overseas. So needless to say, very few expected the Brantford, Ontario native to start his first-ever British Open the way he did, shooting an opening round score of two-under 70.
Hearn, currently ranked 100th in the world, arrived at Royal Liverpool on Monday as the first alternate for the year’s third major. However, on Tuesday former British Open champ Mark Calcavecchia was forced to withdraw, so Hearn was happily pushed into the starting field. “I’ve been a pro for 13 years and this is my first opportunity I’ve had to play in the Open Championship so I was very excited to get over here and I’m thrilled to be in the tournament. It’s a big highlight for me,” he stated.
As if the pressure of competing in his first British Open wasn’t enough to deal with, Hearn also found himself grouped with three-time Open champion Nick Faldo and 2004 champ Todd Hamilton. The Open rookie handled the pressure like a veteran, outpacing the former champs by a decent margin, en route to shooting his way into the top 20. Hearn was a picture of consistency during his opening round, only making one bogey to go along with three birdies. The great opening round has him in striking range of the top of the leaderboard, only four strokes back of current leader Rory McIlroy.
Hearn should be able to lean on fellow Canadian Graham DeLaet for some advice this week. DeLaet, currently ranked 36th in the world, surprised many last year when he made the cut at his first ever British Open. DeLaet followed up last year’s great debut by shooting a bogey-less 2-under 33 on the front nine today. However, he stumbled a bit on the back nine, shooting three bogeys before finding his stroke again to end the round with two birdies on the final three holes. DeLaet’s opening round score of 1-under 71 gives him a chance of making the cut again this year, as he currently sits just above the expected cut line, five shots behind McIlroy.
The two Canadian golfers have chosen the perfect time to hit their strides, as it was announced that the first rankings related to qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be announced next week. Canada will likely be sending two golfers to Rio, and based on the current rankings, Hearn and DeLaet would be the ones chosen to wear the Maple Leaf.