Apparently there’s something about playing in South Louisiana that suits Canadian golfer Devin Carrey just right.

The former Louisiana-Lafayette golfer and defending champion in the Adams Pro Tour’s Merrill Lynch Open began this year’s tournament with a 9-under 63, blitzing the back nine at Santa Maria Golf Course with a score of 8-under 28 that included an eagle on the par-5 18th hole.

The South Surrey, British Columbia, native takes a two-stroke lead into Friday’s second round over Christopher Brown, who carded a 65. Anthony Broussard and Ryan Baca are another stroke back at 66.

Bobby Massa, the leading money winner on this year’s Adams Pro Tour, shot a 4-under 68 to tie for ninth with Trey Denton.

New Orleans native and former Jesuit High School golfer Neal Ajubita, who competed in last week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans on the PGA Tour, shot a 2-over 74.

Tee times begin at 8 a.m. Thursday off Nos. 1 and 10. The field will be cut to the low 42 players and ties. Players one stroke off the cut line will get a chance to compete in a second shot challenge on the 18th hole to also play the weekend.

The tournament continues Friday with the third round, followed by a youth golf clinic at 4 p.m. The $125,000 event, the highest announced purse on the Adams Pro Tour schedule, wraps up Saturday.

There is no charge.