December 20, 2012 – The 2012 season marked a historic year for professional golf in Canada, with the storied history of the Canadian Tour starting a new chapter as PGA TOUR Canada.
Here are the highlights from a thrilling season filled with dramatic finishes, heroic play and the rise of several young Canadian stars
On October 18, 2012 it was announced the Canadian Tour would become PGA TOUR Canada, a division of the PGA TOUR and a pathway to the Web.com Tour.
Several young Canadians had breakout seasons, with Canucks taking the top four spots on the Order of Merit. Former Jack Nicklaus Award winners Matt Hill and Eugene Wong as well as Michael Gligic and Cory Renfrew all captured their first wins and made their mark on the world of pro golf.
Two-time PGA TOUR Canada winner Steve Stricker captured his 12th PGA TOUR win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and joined Nick Watney and Matt Kuchar as alumni to win on the PGA TOUR in 2012.
Four PGA TOUR Canada alumni (Andres Gonzales, James Hahn, Peter Tomasulo, Doug LaBelle II) captured Web.com Tour victories, while Manotick, ON’s Brad Fritsch joined them in The 25, earning PGA TOUR cards for 2013.
The 2012 season was marked by exciting and dramatic finishes. Eugene Wong’s heroic walk-off hole-out at the Canadian Tour Championship was the highlight, while four tournaments ended in playoffs – including three straight that required four extra holes.
American Andrew Roque wowed spectators and produced one of the most clutch performances in recent memory, making birdie on each of his final seven holes to capture the season-opening Times Colonist Island Savings Open in Victoria, BC in June.
Roque, who was also the medalist at the California Q-School, joined alumni and PGA TOUR stars Steve Stricker and Spencer Levin as players to win in their first start on the Canadian Tour.
Burlington, ON’s Michael Gligic came out on top of a wild final round in Edmonton and and won the ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS in a playoff over Matt Marshall, propelling him to a breakout season and second place finish on the Order of Merit.
Victoria, BC’s Cory Renfrew blistered Fort McMurray Golf Club with a nine-under 63, then defeated Matt Hill in a dramatic four-hole playoff to capture his first win at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON.
Hill rebounded the following week, winning the Dakota Dunes Casino Open after coming out on the winning end of another four-hole playoff. The Sarnia, ON native defeated Will Strickler with a birdie on the fourth extra hole.
Chris Killmer and Vince Covello made it four playoffs in as many weeks at The Players Cup, with Killmer, a 25-year old from Bellingham, WA prevailing on the fourth extra hole to nab his first win.
Matt Hill, Cory Renfrew, Michael Gligic, Eugene Wong, Brad Fritsch, Adam Hadwin & Nick Taylor all teed it up at the PGA TOUR’s RBC Canadian Open in July, with Hill outlasting everyone and making the cut for the first time at Canada’s national championship.
PGA TOUR Canada returned to Windsor, ON for the first playing of the Jamieson WFCU Windsor Roseland Charity Classic since 1991. Veteran Alan McLean triumphed with his his first win in 132 starts on the Canadian Tour.
The Canadian Tour Championship visited the venerable Scarboro Golf & Country Club in Toronto, where Eugene Wong produced what would become perhaps the most famous shot in Canadian Tour history. Wong trailed Joe Panzeri by a shot playing the 72nd hole, then holed his 133-yard approach to win by one. The shot garnered attention across the golf world, and was TSN SportsCentre’s Highlight of the Night.
The inaugural playing of The Great Waterway Classic saw PGA TOUR Canada visit Southeastern Ontario for the first time since 2001. Eugene Wong, who the previous week won the Vancouver Golf Tour’s Vancouver Open, captured his third pro win in as many weeks and second straight on PGA TOUR Canada. Wong’s final round 65 was his eighth straight of 68 or better on TOUR.
Four rookies accounted for five wins: Roque, Renfrew, Hill and Wong (2), and every tournament was won by a first-time winner – with the exception of Wong’s second win at The Great Waterway Classic.
Matt Hill and Eugene Wong began the year with no status, but played their way into tournaments they would later win. Hill was given a sponsor’s exemption at the ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS, where he would finish tied for eighth. That top-10 finish awarded him a spot in the field the following week in Fort McMurray, where he lost in a playoff but earned an exemption into the Dakota Dunes Casino Open, which he won. Wong won as a sponsor’s invite at the Canadian Tour Championship, becoming a member and winning the next event in Gananoque.
Three players made the cut in all eight events: Roger Sloan, Derek Gillespie and Joe Panzeri.
Andrew Roque had the lowest round of the year, a final round 61 that included seven birdies on the final seven holes to win the Times Colonist Island Savings Open. Derek Gillespie had the lowest round to par, a 10-under 62 in the third round of the Dakota Dunes Casino Open
Derek Gillespie’s consistent play made everyone nearly forget he was playing 2012 on a Medical Exemption after suffering serious injuries in a car accident in 2011. Gillespie had two top-10s, six top-30s and finished 12th on the Order of Merit.
All but one of the 2012 winners were age 26 or younger, with the 42-year old Alan McLean breaking the trend in Windsor.
Roger Sloan led the TOUR in birdies with 140, Kevin Stinson and Will Strickler shared the lead for most eagles with eight.
Flagstick Golf Magazine Editorial Director Scott MacLeod won the second playing of the Expert Picks pool.