PGA Tour 6th alternate grabs RBC Canadian Open co-lead despite wild travel delays

A panicked Sean O’Hair was stranded in Lubbock, Texas, on Tuesday thanks to severe weather delays.

He had just received a call from the PGA Tour, in which an official informed him that he had made it into the RBC Canadian Open field. A few other tour pros had withdrawn, bumping him up the alternate list and eventually into the tournament. Therefore, the tour felt obligated to inform O’Hair that he needed to make his way to Canada.

O’Hair, who lives in Lubbock, has four PGA Tour wins to his name, with his most recent triumph coming in 2011, when he won the RBC Canadian Open. But he could not catch a flight out of his hometown all day on Tuesday, so he hopped in a car first thing Wednesday morning and drove five hours to Dallas, where a plane to Canada awaited him.

He eventually made it to Hamilton by Wednesday evening, but he did not have time to play a practice round before his Thursday morning tee time.

But it did not matter.

O’Hair went out and carded a 7-under 63 for his opening round, as he sits atop the leaderboard tied with Sam Burns through 18 holes.

“I was fortunate enough to get here. I was exhausted,” O’Hair said after.

RBC Canadian Open, PGA Tour, Sean O’Hair

Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

“I was in a fog today because I was just so tired, but it worked out.”

Indeed, it did.

O’Hair rode his hot putter, making five birdies over his first 12 holes. He then eagled the 17th, thanks to a 27-foot bomb he made on Hamilton Golf & Country Club’s final par-5.

“It’s a pretty tight driving hole, so I just kind of cut a driver off that left bunker there and pulled it off,” O’Hair said of 17.

“Then, I hit a really good 5-wood to the middle of the green. I was able to be aggressive with the eagle putt because it was up the hill. Just broke a little right and went right in the center. That was nice.”

O’Hair, like Rory McIlroy, played the course blind. But his caddie arrived earlier in the week and walked the course numerous times.

“There wasn’t much of a game plan. I’ve kind of put the game plan on him, and he just guided me out there today,” O’Hair said.

“I trust him doing that. He does a really good job of charting the courses for me. I just trusted him today, and it worked.”

Even though he heavily relied on his looper, O’Hair still admitted to feeling uncomfortable out there.

“I like to be prepared. But I didn’t have an option. I think when you don’t really have an option, and you’re kind of making a big deal about it, it almost hurts you,” O’Hair said.

“I just said, ‘Look, I don’t really expect a whole lot today.’ I haven’t really been playing that great either, so to come out here and shoot the score I did today was definitely kind of a shocker for me. Ride it out, I guess, as long as I can.”

O’Hair will have time on Thursday afternoon to finally settle in, but the last man in the field will rest happily, knowing his name sits atop the leaderboard.

Hopefully, for his sake, he can keep it going over the next 54 holes.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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