Brian Decker – PGA Tour Canada
June 4, 2013, (ISN) – The Times Colonist Island Savings Open, the longest running event on the PGA TOUR Canada schedule, reaches its 30th playing this week.
Long a favourite stop on the Tour schedule thanks to the vibrant and friendly nature, Victoria serves as a perfect host to kick off the inaugural PGA TOUR Canada season. Past champions of the Times Colonist Island Savings Open include PGA TOUR winners Steve Stricker, Jason Bohn, Craig Parry and Dave Barr as well as PGA TOUR players David Hearn, Ken Duke, Spencer Levin and Brandt Jobe as well as Canadian golf legend Bob Panasik.
30th Times Colonist Island Savings Open
Uplands Golf Club
Victoria, British Columbia
2012 Winner: Andrew Roque
TALE OF THE TAPE
Uplands Golf Club
Victoria, British Columbia
Par 70 – 35/35 – 6,420 Yards
Designed: 1922 – Resident course architect Graham Cooke
Course Record: 61 – Roger Sloan (2011) and Andrew Roque (2012)
PGA TOUR CANADA – A NEW ERA IN CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL GOLF
In October, the PGA TOUR announced it would be assuming leadership of the former Canadian Tour, creating PGA TOUR Canada. This week, the vision for the Tour – a series of events to be played across Canada each summer with players competing in a season-long race for five Web.com Tour cards – becomes a reality with its first event under the PGA TOUR umbrella.
In its 30 years, the Canadian Tour had a long history of producing PGA TOUR stars including Mike Weir, Steve Stricker, Chris DiMarco, Graham DeLaet and more. With a direct path to the Web.com Tour and a PGA TOUR experience for players, fans, volunteers and more, PGA TOUR Canada looks to extend and enhance that history into a new era in Canadian professional golf.
CHASE FOR WEB.COM TOUR CARDS
The prize PGA TOUR Canada players will be chasing this year is a direct step up to the next level of professional golf. The top five players on the Order of Merit will graduate to the Web.com Tour in 2014, making PGA TOUR Canada a stepping stone for PGA TOUR stars of the future. The top money winner will receive fully exempt status for 2014, with player finishing 2nd to 5th earning highly placed status. Players finishing from 6th to 10th will receive an exemption into the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School, while players 11th-20th will be exempt into second stage.
CORY RENFREW – LOCAL FAVOURITE
When Victoria native Cory Renfrew teed it up at last year’s Times Colonist Island Savings Open, little did Canadian golf fans know it would be the beginning of a stellar rookie season for one of Canada’s best up-and-coming stars. Renfrew nearly claimed victory in his first tournament, taking the 54-hole lead before finishing tied for second (thanks mainly to winner Andrew Roque’s final round 61). It was the start of a stellar season that saw Renfrew grab his first professional win at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON, earn an exemption into the RBC Canadian Open and finish third on the Order of Merit. Renfrew also made headlines this winter when he shot 59 at an All-American Tour event in Arizona.
Other locals in the field include Sooke, BC resident Stuart Anderson, Nanaimo’s Darren Griff as well as a former local in University of Victoria grad Mitch Evanecz.
ROQUE’S RUN TO THE FINISH
Last year’s Times Colonist Island Savings Open looked to have a down-to-the-wire finish in store, but Andrew Roque had other ideas. With Victoria’s Cory Renfrew, Oshawa, Ontario’s Derek Gillespie and Brazil’s Lucas Lee all in the mix, it was Roque, who was the medalist at Q-School barely a month earlier, who stole the show with a final round 61, including seven birdies on his final seven holes. Roque’s run was sparked by a chip-in at no. 12 and concluded with a twisting, 25-footer at the 18th to give him a three-stroke victory.
GOLF CANADA EXEMPTIONS
As part of PGA TOUR Canada’s collaboration with Golf Canada to grow and advance the professional game in Canada, two members or recent graduates of Golf Canada’s National Amateur Team will receive exemptions into PGA TOUR Canada events this summer. Elite amateurs and graduates who have decided to pursue the game professionally will get to compete against PGA TOUR Canada players and receive an experience that will help bridge the gap to the game’s highest levels.
This week’s exemptions are 2011 and 2012 Canadian Amateur Champion Mackenzie Hughes and 2010 Canadian Amateur winner Albin Choi. Graduates of the program include PGA TOUR Canada winners Graham DeLaet, Adam Hadwin, Richard Scott, Matt Hill and Eugene Wong.
Hughes earned his way into the US Open through Sectional Qualifying Monday, while Choi will professional debut in Victoria, having missed out on qualifying for the US Open. Had he qualified for the US Open, Choi – who 2011 Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel called “the best amateur I’ve ever played with” at last year’s RBC Canadian Open – would have stayed an amateur, but will instead begin what looks to be a promising professional career this week.
TAYLOR’S TERRIFIC RUN
Since turning professional in 2010, former World Amateur no. 1 Nick Taylor has been solid, if unspectacular as a pro, posting five PGA TOUR Canada top-10s in two full seasons. But if his play leading up to the 2013 season is any indication, the Abbotsford, BC native is about to break out in a big way. Taylor claimed five straight victories on the Vancouver Golf Tour this spring, with his bid for six consecutive wins coming to an end with a playoff loss to fellow BC native Adam Cornelson in a playoff last week. At one point Taylor went 37-under par for six rounds.
PGA TOUR LATINOAMÉRICA STARS HEAD NORTH
Several PGA TOUR Canada players are trying to double their chances of getting to the Web.com Tour by finishing in the top five on the Order of Merit, playing both in Canada and on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica this summer. Latinoamérica Order of Merit leader and former PGA TOUR Canada Order of Merit winner leader Jose de Jesus Rodriguez leads a list of players to watch out for this summer:
Jose de Jesus Rodriguez (Mexico): PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit leader, 2011 PGA TOUR Canada Order of Merit winner
Jorge Fernandez-Valdes (Argentina): 2nd on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit, youngest winner in Latinoamérica history (20)
José Toledo (Guatemala): Winner of both PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR Canada Q-Schools.
Other players to have status on both Tours in the field this week include Canadians Derek Gillespie, Adam Cornelson and Alan Wagner (Argentina), Sebastian Saavedra (Argentina), Hugo Leon (Chile), Martin Ureta (Chile), Ryan Blaum (USA) and Maxwell Scodro (USA).
WEB.COM TOUR EXEMPTIONS
Web.com Tour players will have access to PGA TOUR Canada events this summer, with five players gaining entry based on their position on the money list. This week’s players include three-time Web.com Tour winner Brad Elder and Australia’s Bryden Macpherson.
Non-invitational PGA TOUR Canada events will have 10 spots for open qualifying this year, giving non-exempt and local players a chance to play their way into the field. This week’s qualifiers include:
Christopher Lane Branum
(* denotes PGA TOUR Canada member)
Bold denotes Canadian
As part of the celebration of the launch of PGA TOUR Canada, Tour alumni competing at the PGA TOUR’s Fed Ex St. Jude Classic this week will be wearing commemorative PGA TOUR Canada pins. 30 Alumni are in the field including Stephen Ames, David Hearn, Brad Fritsch, Tim Clark, Chris DiMarco, DA Points, Jason Bohn, James Hahn, Brandt Jobe, composing 19.2% of the field.
This week’s field includes 56 Canadians, 79 Americans and players from 17 countries including Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Past Times Colonist Island Savings Open Champions:
Andrew Roque (2012)
Jose de Jesus Rodriguez (2011)
Brock Mackenzie (2010)
Mike Grob (2006)