Brendan Leonard will always be able to say that he made birdie at the last in his PGA Tour debut.
The 31-year-old from Cambridge fared much better in Friday’s second round at the RBC Canadian Open, shaking off a nervy start from the day before at Toronto’s St. George’s Golf and Country Club.
The birdie on eight, his 18th hole of the day after starting at nine, gave him a second-round score of two-over-par 72.
It was a marked difference to 24 hours earlier, when he shot 78 to end any hopes of making the cut.
“Today was a lot better, I settled in right away,” said Leonard after his round, “I just played my game today, I had a few bad breaks but other than that I played pretty solid.”
Leonard had bogeys on three of his first five holes on Thursday to put himself on the defensive from the outset. It was a different story on Friday.
“I figured out the rough today and got my (swing) a little steeper (digging out) but you can’t miss fairways out here,” said Leonard.
He acknowledged nerves were a factor a day earlier playing in the highly charged atmosphere of a PGA Tour event with about 35 friends and family following him around the course.
“On the first tee, it was not something I had ever felt before,” said Leonard of his nerves to open play on Thursday.
The birdie at the last came after Leonard made a nice par at the difficult seventh, a tough 440-yard par 4, his penultimate hole of the day.
His drive caught a small slope on the left side of the fairway and he was unlucky to trickle into the rough. He managed a nice approach from about 150 yards out that went through the green from where he chipped up and made the brush-in for par.
Leonard also showed some nice bounce-back ability a few holes earlier after a tough bogey on the second hole. He stepped up to the difficult, downhill par-3 third hole and navigated tricky wind with a beautiful iron in and a tidy two-putt par.
A birdie followed two holes later – he ended the day with two circles on the card against four bogeys.
Leonard now flies to Edmonton to catch the PGA Tour Canada schedule when it resumes next week. He missed the cut in Victoria last week.
He plans on playing that tour the rest of the summer and possibly some mini tour events after the schedule concludes.
Looking further down the track, Leonard is hoping his experience this week will help him try and secure one of five spots in the Canadian tour’s points standings in order to earn playing privileges on the Korn Ferry Tour, the rung below the PGA Tour, for next season.
“I’m probably going to sign up for Korn Ferry Q School in the next few days,” he explained, “ but hopefully I can get one of the (top five) spots on PGA Tour Canada.”
Leonard earned a spot in the Canadian Open field by winning a local qualifier last month.
A late bloomer, Leonard broke through last year with his PGA Tour Canada win (then called the Mackenzie Tour).
He also posted three other top 10s to finish fourth on the circuit’s points list and full status for this season.