BY BRAD ZIEMER
KELOWNA — Grady Brame Jr. arrived at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club with two missed cuts in his wake and his confidence waning.
Canada, more specifically the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada circuit, had not been kind to the 25-year-old Louisiana pro.
Last year, he started his Mackenzie Tour season with six straight missed cuts and ended up making a total of $1,177 in nine events. This year had not got off to a promising start either, as Brame missed the cut in both Vancouver and Victoria.
Then Thursday happened. It wasn’t quite a Cinderella story out of nowhere, but it was close.
Brame shot a nine-under 62 to grab a share of the first-round lead at the $200,000 GolfBC Championship at Gallagher’s Canyon with Californian Mark Anguiano and Zach Wright of Phoenix.
Brame credited an improved mental attitude with helping him go low Thursday.
“I had a rough summer last year up here and a rough couple events recently and it’s easy to go, ‘here we go again,’ Brame said.
“But I didn’t do anything differently physically, nothing with the swing. It was literally all just an improvement mentally. A little more positive outlook, just staying in the present and forgetting about the results, which is easier said than done. Today it just seemed a lot easier. It was one of those days where I did everything well and it just seemed easy.”
Of course, Brame knows better than most that golf is not easy.
“If you want to make it in this game you need to be exceptional in the mental aspects, just have unwavering confidence and patience and that is why very few make it,” he said. “It is so difficult to not doubt yourself when so many things have gone wrong over and over again. I know when I am playing well I can play with anybody out here. It’s just a matter of me turning my bad scores into relatively decent ones and start to figure out it’s not the physical side it’s more the mental side. I am glad I made that turnaround today.”
Brame’s bogey-free round included seven birdies and an eagle on the par 5 ninth hole, where his six-iron from 205 yards settled about five feet from the hole.
Anguiano’s round was also bogey-free and he rattled off nine birdies.
“I didn’t hit it that great warming up, didn’t have any expectations,” Anguiano said. “The putting felt good. It was just one of those days where I got some good breaks and had some easy putts. That really makes a difference on days like this. It was a nice easy-flowing day. I had a lot of momentum, didn’t really hit it that great coming down the stretch but kept it together really well. My short game is feeling really good.”
Anguiano, 25, spent last year on the Web.com Tour, where he finished 98th on the money list and lost his exempt status.
“I was playing okay last year and then I had an injury in the middle of the year that kind of messed me up a bit,“ he said. “I couldn’t get anything going after that. I think it’s a good thing that I am playing up here and getting some reps in because I haven’t been playing many tournaments this year.”
This was not his first 62 in competition. He opened last year’s BMW Charity Classic on the Web.com Tour with a 62 and thinks he can learn some things from what happened after that.
“I learned a lot from that one,” he said. “Last year in the second round I started three-over after three holes. . .I was just scared, there were a lot of cameras around that one. It was televised, a lot of emotions after the round in that one.”
It wasn’t like Anguiano went completely off the rails in that tournament. He ended up finishing tied for 14th to record his best finish of the year on the Web.com Tour. He just thinks what he learned there will help him the rest of the way at Gallagher’s Canyon.
Wright, who is coming off a tie for second in Vancouver and a tie for sixth in Victoria, finished eagle-birdie-birdie-eagle to record his 62.
“The par 5s are pretty short so if you hit a good drive you can attack them,” Wright said. “I hit like driver-seven-iron into the first one and made a 15-footer and then I kind of got lucky on the next hole. It (his tee shot) kind of rode the cart path around and I had a shot through the trees and I hit it to like eight feet and made that. Then I had a10-footer on the par 3 and made that. The next par 5 I was hitting it out of the rough and kind of got lucky with how much it jumped and it went to 10 feet and ended up making it. It was a pretty good finish.”
Anguiano, Brame and Wright will have to keep making birdies. It took 25-under to win the GolfBC Championship in 2016 and 19-under won last year.
They have a two-shot lead on Blake Trimble of Oklahoma City and Justin Doeden of Prior Lake, Minn.
Kimberley’s Jared du Toit is the top Canadian at six-under par.