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Na rides on late birdie blasts in Canada

AMERICAN Kevin Na birdied his final five holes to grab the clubhouse lead in the first round of the rain-hit Canadian Open in Ontario on Thursday.

Na, chasing his first career PGA Tour win, provided a blistering finish to a soggy day with birdies on nine of his final 12 holes, the last in fading light, on the way to a bogey-free, 9-under 63.

Americans Joe Durant, Scott Verplank and South African Retief Goosen were lurking two shots back.

Jimmy Walker was a shot further adrift on 6-under with four holes still to complete when play was suspended due to darkness.

A total of 39 players failed to even start their rounds. The 100th edition of the event got off to miserable start as driving rain chased the golfers from the Glen Abbey layout shortly after the first round began.

When play finally resumed, seven-and-a-half hours later and after more than an inch of rain had been squeezed out of the course, the birdies came thick and fast.

Goosen and Verplank, with six birdies on his last nine, returned error-free 65s while Durant joined the group with the help of a hole-in-one on the par three seventh.

Na's round included a run of seven birdies over his final nine for a 7-under 28, equalling the lowest nine-hole score for a Canadian Open set by Vijay Singh in 2004.

"I got to the 11th hole, where I was starting after the delay and I looked at the guy and said: "Man it feels like Friday," Na told reporters. "It was a long day. The greens are holding, so you can get aggressive with the irons but off the tee you must put yourself in the fairway.

"The rough is very thick."

Mike Weir, bidding to become the first home-grown winner of the event in 55 years, gave the crowd reason to cheer when he roared through the turn with four birdies over five holes.

But the former-US Masters champion stumbled home with three bogeys to settle for a 1-under 71, eight off the pace. Chez Reavie got the defence of his Canadian crown off to a stuttering start with a 1-over 73 while crowd favorite John Daly bogied three of his final four holes for a 5-over 77.


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