Nigel Sinnott and Sang Lee take first-round lead at PGA Championship of Canada with impressive 65s

Nigel Sinnott and Sang Lee take first-round lead at PGA Championship of Canada with impressive 65s

Story by: Brendan Stasiewich

Digital content by: Brendan Stasiewich/Jeff Curlew, PGA of Canada 

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Sang Lee felt right at home at Mickelson National Golf Club in Calgary, AB on Monday during the first round of the PGA Championship of Canada – and why wouldn’t he – he grew up in the city, honing his game under Randy Robb at Edge School.

Wouldn’t you know it, it was his friend Robb, during the practice round, that taught him how to play the putt he would serendipitously need to hit on the 17th hole Monday.

He hit the 30-foot putt 60 feet. Many of those were backwards, before the putt rolled all the way back to a foot.

Had he not had an abundance of confidence on 17 after hitting his tee shot on the par-4 16th to a foot, making eagle, maybe he wouldn’t have tried it. But he did – and it worked wonders.

“I never would have thought of that (on 17), but during the practice round I played with Robb, who is now a teaching pro out here, he said if I’m ever left of this pin and short to go left, and I did and it worked out,” said Lee, who turned professional in 2015 after playing collegiately at Washington State University.

“(Hole 16) was a bit funny because I was four-under at that point and if I had a wedge in my hand I might have got another chance at birdie, but I said to my buddy caddying ‘I’ll do whatever you want me to do here,’ so I hit driver and hit a good one up there,” said Lee, who recorded five birdies to go along with his eagle. “It was probably my best drive of the day, and to hit it to a few inches was a bonus.”
Just a few short years ago, Lee was unable to play golf for about a year-and-a-half due to a chronic back injury. Returning to the game in 2021, it’s evident the back is feeling much better.

“I’ve been playing alright coming in, but my good buddy caddying and my dad watching gave me good vibes,” said Lee. “I made a lot of saves. You get a lot of four or five footers out here and I made all of them to keep the momentum going.”

Earlier in the day, Cheam Mountain Golf Club’s Nigel Sinnott made nine birdies – three clear of anybody else - it looked like his lead might hold up through the end of the day.

“I holed a bunker shot on the first hole and kept it in play the whole day,” said Sinnott after his opening 65. “I was hitting my driver really well and we were down wind all day, so I just kept hitting driver and hit a lot of greens and lots of shots close.”

Sinnott had nothing but praise for Mickelson National Golf Club.

“This is one of my favourite golf courses I’ve ever played, to be honest,” said Sinnott. “You can hit driver all over if you want to. The greens were fast with the wind and there were a few I would want back, but all around the course is playing really fair and I enjoyed the challenge.”

Sinnott is looking to make it two PGA Championships in a row for Cheam Mountain, with his colleague Kevin Stinson winning the championship in a playoff in 2023.

“Kevin is obviously an incredible player, you could put him on any Tour in the world really, if he had the chance,” said Sinnott. “It would be great to get another one of these for Cheam and follow in his footsteps a little bit.”

Meanwhile, Ridgeway Golf Course’s Michael Caan, who many will know from this viral video of him jumping into a greenside pond after holing a long putt to shoot 59, fired a bogey-free 68 and is three back, alongside Earl Grey’s Scott Stiles and Sunridge Canyon’s Kendal Yonemoto.

The full leaderboard can be found here.

Second-round tee times begin at 8:30 AM MT on Tuesday.

A huge thank you to local partner Flint Energy for offering meals to players each of the first two rounds, Stony for supplying staff clothing, E-Z-GO for the ‘Good to Go Hole of the Day’, Golf Avenue for supporting the full championship schedule, Golf Away Tours for their support of our championship previews, National Partner Wesko Locks and local partner Harmony Developments.