Thunder Bay, Ontario (SportsNetwork.com) - Brandon Harkins shot a first- round 8-under 64 on Thursday and that was good enough to give him a 1-shot lead at the Staal Foundation Open.
Harkins, who has missed the cut twice in five events this year, is looking for his first career victory on the PGA Tour Canada. In the other three events this season, Harkins has yet to break into the top 10 with his best finish coming at the Bayview Place Island Savings Open, where he finished tied for 13th.
Right on Harkins' heels are last week's The Players Cup champion Timothy Madigan and Joshua Stone, both of whom fired a first-round 7-under 65 at Whitewater Golf Club.
Sean Shahi and Jeffrey Corr are tied for fourth at 6-under 66, while Jeff Dennis, Adam Long, Ryan Terdik, Wes Homan, Tommy Cocha and Greg Eason are all tied for sixth at 5-under 67. They are three shots back.
Harkins had a solid bogey-free day to go along with eight birdies. He started off very strong as he teed off on No. 10 to begin his day. After two pars to start the round, Harkins poured in his first birdie at No. 12.
Following a par at No. 13, Harkins made three straight birdies from No. 14 and that quickly had him at 4-under. He rounded out his first nine with a par at 17 and a birdie at 18.
Harkins, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday, did not stop there. He followed up two straight pars from No. 1 with another birdie at the third. Two more pars preceded back-to-back birdies at six and seven, which had Harkins at 8-under for the day. He rounded out his blemish-free round with two more pars and ended there.
Madigan continued to play good golf after winning last week. The front nine was very back-and-forth for Madigan, who had three birdies at two, four and eight. He also made bogeys at five and nine, putting Madigan at 1-under as he made the turn.
Then the birdies started to fall, and fall fast. Madigan made gains on all but three of the final nine holes, with only 11, 14 and 16 yielding pars. The surge vaulted Madigan into a tie for second.
Stone made five birdies of his own on the back nine, which was his front nine. Birdies at 10 and 14 had Stone off and running before he drained three straight birdies from 16.
One bogey at No. 1 was Stone's only dropped shot as he made birdies at two, five and six before rounding out his day with three straight pars.
NOTES: Madigan is looking to become the second two-time winner on tour this season. Joel Dahmen captured two of the first three tournaments this year. Dahmen is tied for 12th at 4-under ... Stone has made the cut just twice in five events this year and his best finish came at the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open, where he ended tied for 45th.