Brian Decker – PGA Tour Canada
July 14, 2013, Fort McMurray, AB (ISN) – Comox, British Columbia’s Riley Wheeldon earned his first PGA TOUR Canada victory at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON Sunday, firing a 6-under par 66 at Fort McMurray Golf Club to finish 13-under par for the week and win by one over Brazil’s Lucas Lee.
Wheeldon became the first Canadian winner in PGA TOUR Canada’s inaugural season, earning $27,000 for the win and moving to the top of the Order of Merit with $37,988 in earnings.
Final Leaderboard – Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON
(Bold denotes Canadian)
1. Riley Wheeldon – 66 (-13)
2. Lucas Lee – 69 (-12)
3. Cory Renfrew – 67 (-11)
T-4. David Dragoo – 70 (-10)
T-4. Joel Dahmen – 71 (-10)
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Wheeldon, who finished third at the season-opening Times Colonist Island Savings Open. “Being able to represent your country, especially on the first season of PGA TOUR Canada feels good.”
Wheeldon was able to emerge from a tightly-packed leaderboard, making birdie on three of the first five holes on the back nine to reach 13-under par before cruising to pars on his final four holes. Among the players making a charge for the title on Sunday was defending champion Cory Renfrew, who went out in 32 and reached 11-under par early in his back nine.
“I saw early that Cory was going pretty low, and I know what he did last year, so I had to make some birdies coming in,” said Wheeldon. “I made some birdies early in the back nine and was able to play a little more conservative coming in.”
Lucas Lee, who came into Sunday tied for the lead with Clarkston, Washington’s Joel Dahmen, needed an eagle on the 72nd hole to force a playoff, but was only able to manage a birdie to finish solo 2nd at 12-under, his fifth runner-up finish on PGA TOUR Canada.
The win puts Wheeldon atop the Order of Merit, not only in position to earn one of the five Web.com Tour cards for 2014, but also one of the three RBC Canadian Open exemptions available after The Players Cup.
“It’s on my mind 100 per cent. It was one of my goals coming into this year to play in a PGA TOUR event, specifically the RBC Canadian Open,” said Wheeldon. “To be able to win this week and give myself the opportunity going into next week to get that exemption as well as put myself in position for one of the five Web.com Tour cards at the end of the year is huge.”
Rounding out the top five in a tie for fourth were Carefree, Arizona’s David Dragoo, who finished second here in 2011, and Dahmen, who bounced back from a double bogey-bogey start to shoot a 1-under par 71.
Wheeldon wins Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week for second time
For the second time this season, Riley Wheeldon collected the $1,500 prize as Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week. Wheeldon finished third and was low Canadian at the season-opening Times Colonist Island Savings Open in June.
The low Canadian each week earns the weekly $1,500 prize, with the top Canadian on the Order of Merit at season’s end earning a $10,000 prize as Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Year. Wheeldon boasts a $16,025 lead over Abbotsford, British Columbia’s Nick Taylor in the season-long standings.
Chase for top spots on Order of Merit top take shape
The top five players on the Order of Merit at season’s end will graduate to the Web.com Tour for 2014, while the top three players on the Order of Merit after The Players Cup next week in Winnipeg will earn exemptions into the 2013 RBC Canadian Open. Here are the top five after the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON.
1. Riley Wheeldon $37,988
2. Wil Collins $28,769
3. Stephen Gangluf $27,585
4. Nick Taylor $21,963
5. Tyler Aldridge $20,860
– Weather: Mix of sun and cloud, 19 degree Celsius, wind 5 km/h
– Wheeldon earned his second professional win, following up an NGA Tour victory in March. Wheeldon entered the final round of that event two shots behind, the same as Sunday in Fort McMurray.
– Nick Taylor shot a 2-under par 70 to finish tied for sixth and is the only player to finish in the top-10 in all three events so far this season. Taylor was T-4 in Victoria and T-2 last week in Saskatoon.
– John Ellis had the low round of the day and week with an 8-under par 64, finishing tied for sixth at 9-under par.
– Former PGA TOUR Canada winners Brock Mackenzie and Eugene Wong posted their first top-10s of the season, finishing tied for sixth at 9-under par