The Wildfire Invitational presented by PC Financial is the 10th of 12 events on the 2015 schedule and the third of five events in as many weeks to close out the race to finish in The Five and earn status on the Web.com Tour for 2015. The 2015 schedule consists of 12 events from coast-to-coast, beginning with the PC Financial Open in May and concluding with the Freedom 55 Financial Championship this September.
Wildfire hosts unique pro-am format
The Wildfire Invitational presented by PC Financial is host to a unique pro-am format, with a field consisting of 128 professionals and 64 amateurs. The professional field is comprised of the top 122 available players on the Order of Merit through The Great Waterway Classic, plus six sponsor’s exemptions.
Amateurs will be paired with a different professional partner for each of the first two rounds, with the top 60 professionals plus ties making the cut. The $175,000 purse for professionals is part of a standard 72-hole competition.
A look back at The Wildfire Invitational presented by PC Financial in 2014
In last year’s final round at Wildfire, Nate McCoy began the day four shots off the lead held by Joe Panzeri, but carded a bogey-free, final round 7-under 65 to post the clubhouse lead at 19-under. Michael Gligic matched the lead with a birdie on the 72nd hole, forcing a sudden victory playoff. After each player parred the first three extra holes, Gligic was unable to save par after hooking his second shot into the fescue. McCoy made par to secure his first Mackenzie Tour win and went on to finish seventh on the Order of Merit.
Oldest competitor: David McKenzie (48 years, 1 month, 6 days).
Youngest competitor: Austin Connelly (18 years, 11 months, 14 days).
30 Canadians are in the field this week, along with players from the United States, Australia, England, France, Germany, Sweden, Taiwan, Wales and Zimbabwe.
Surrey, B.C.’s Adam Svensson returns to the Mackenzie Tour this week after making three consecutive starts on the Web.com Tour. Svensson held the 36-hole lead at last week’s WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz, where a win would have netted him a spot inside The 25 and PGA TOUR membership for the 2015-16 season. The 21-year old went on to finish T13.
Svensson has finished T2-T2-T3 in his three starts on the Mackenzie Tour this season, and shot under par in each of his 12 rounds. He ranks 11th on the Order of Merit.
Taylor Pendrith, who has finished runner-up in two playoffs this season, returns to the Mackenzie Tour this week after playing on the Web.com Tour last week. The 24-year old ranks ninth on the Order of Merit.
Corey Conners, like Svensson and Pendrith, played on the Web.com Tour last week and returns to the Mackenzie Tour this week. Conners ranks 31st on the Order of Merit.
Svensson, Pendrith and Conners are all members of Golf Canada’s Young Pro Squad, along with fellow Mackenzie Tour members Albin Choi and Mackenzie Hughes.
Eugene Wong (no. 29 on the Order of Merit) is not in the field. Wong ranks fifth on the PGA TOUR China Series Order of Merit and will head back to compete in the Pingan Bank Open next week.
Danny Sahl (Tied for 26th on the Order of Merit) is the only non-member in the field this week to have qualified via his position on the Order of Merit. Justin Shin (67th) and Bryn Parry (107th) were eligible but did not enter. James Love (139th) is second on the alternate list.
Austin Connelly, who made his pro debut at The Great Waterway Classic and finished T30, will play once again this week on a sponsor’s exemption.
Race for The Five
The top five players on the 2015 Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit will earn status on the Web.com Tour, making each shot and every dollar important in terms of who will graduate to the Web.com Tour in 2016. With all 50 cards to the PGA TOUR now coming from the Web.com Tour, it’s possible for players to move on from the Mackenzie Tour to the PGA TOUR in just over one year’s time. Here are the standings through The Great Waterway Classic (bold denotes Canadian):
1. J.J. Spaun – $78,384
2. Sam Ryder – $56,538
3. Albin Choi – $49,806
4. Drew Weaver – $45,487
5. Kevin Spooner – $41,689
Race for the Freedom 55 Financial Championship:
The top 60 players on the Order of Merit through next week’s Cape Breton Celtic Classic presented by PC Financial will earn a spot in the season-ending Freedom 55 Financial Championship and retain exempt status on the Mackenzie Tour for the 2016 season. Below is a picture of the race through nine of 12 events:
|No.||Player||Earnings and +/-|
|64||Mike Ballo, Jr.||-$402|
A look at the 2015 Mackenzie Tour season so far
Eight of nine winners have been in their 20s.
Youngest winner: Albin Choi, Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist (23 years, 1 month, 3 days)
Oldest winner: Michael Letzig, SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel (35 years, 1 month, 28 days)
Only two 54-hole leaders or co-leaders (Sam Ryder – National Capital Open to Support Our Troops, Brad Clapp – The Great Waterway Classic) have gone on to win.
Three Canadian winners (Albin Choi/ Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist; Kevin Spooner/Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON; Brad Clapp/The Great Waterway Classic)
Two players (Mackenzie Hughes and Sam Ryder) have made the cut in every event.
The Wildfire Invitational presented by PC Financial sponsor’s exemptions:
Ted Brown (Peterborough, Ont.)
Derek Gillespie (Oshawa, Ont.)
Jon Mills (Belleville, Ont.)
Jeff Mills (Belleville, Ont.)
Joe Panzeri (Meridian, Ida.)
Austin Connelly (Church Point, N.S.)
Mackenzie Tour alumni notes
Mackenzie Tour alumni Tyler Aldridge and Lucas Lee finished 14th and 22nd, respectively, on the 2015 Regular Season Web.com Tour Money List, earning PGA TOUR cards for the 2015-16 season. Aldridge played 22 career events from 2012-14, earning four top-10 finishes. Lee played 45 events from 2009-13 and finished runner-up five times, including at the 2013 Syncrude Boreal Open, propelling him to a 16th place finish on the Order of Merit.
Tony Finau, who played nine events on the Mackenzie Tour in 2013, finished T16 las