MALONE — The Masters North Golf Championship has had only two back-to-back winners in 31 years — Bobby Hughes in 1997 and 1998 and Graham Cooke in 2009 and 2010.
Montreal’s Peter Malo is looking to join the select company.
Malo, the 2013 champion, carded a 3-over par 75 from the blue tees in blustery conditions to take Thursday’s first-round lead at the Malone Golf Club’s East Course.
The scores were very good considering wind gusts that got up to 30 mph, according to tournament director Willie King.
“I got lucky when I made a two on the par-4 ninth hole,” Malo said. “I made a couple of birdies on the front nine but missed some putts on the back. I three-putted a couple of holes.
“I played in a one-day tournament (Wednesday) and didn’t play well. I played pretty well (Thursday), especially dealing with the wind, and I’m happy with the round.”
With inclement weather in the forecast for today, tee times will begin at 8:30 a.m. on both the first and 10th tees.
Malo has plenty of company near the top of the leaderboard.
Four golfers —Serge Dagenais, Bart Van Leuvan, Matt King and 2011 champion Ed Davis — are one stroke off Malo’s pace.
“Honestly, I hit the ball well today,” Davis said. “I was hitting the ball so well that sometimes I would hit it too good. The wind was a problem for everyone, but I also three-putted four greens. I had a little trouble putting but hit the ball solid.”
Thirteen golfers in the 41-player field broke 80.
Lurking two strokes off the lead is Cooke, who is seeking his 10th green jacket. Randy Oka is also at 77.
Graham Niles is at 78, while Chris Henri, Tom Raville, Greg Wilson, Chip Ward and Ethan Votraw all stand at 79.