A number of Canadians begin playing for next year at the PGA Tour's second stage qualifying school and the Champions Tour final stage qualifier are staged this week.
As many as 20 Canadians are taking part in one of six PGA qualifiers spread across Florida, Texas and California. Among the notables are David Byrne of Essex, Ont., looking to parlay his victory on the Big Break reality golf series into a Tour card; Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., looking to get back to the PGA Tour after a less than productive season on the Web.com Tour; Richard Scott of Kingsville, Ont., who earlier this year declined a sponsor's exemption into the RBC Canadian Open in order to concentrate on making the Top 25 on the Web.com Tour. At the time he was within striking distance but seven missed cuts in the next nine events dropped him out of the chase. He finished 53rd and missed direct entry into the final stage by just over $8,500; Matt Hill of Sarnia, Ont., who finished atop the Order of Merit on the PGA Tour of Canada (formerly the Canadian Tour) this year; Jon Mills of Belleville, Ont., who struggled to make just over $4,000 this year, two years after just missing out on his Tour card; and Eugene Wong of North Vancouver, B.C., the former amateur standout who turned pro earlier this summer and finished the year with three straight wins.
Getting through this week's second stage also means more than just a shot at a PGA Tour card. Those who don’t make it have no status anywhere on tour next year, unless they are a past champion. And there are some of those scattered about the various start lists this week: Todd Hamilton, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Lee Janzen. Also entered are a pair of Europeans ranked in the top 50, Jamie Donaldson and Alex Noren, a former Ryder Cup player from England - Ross Fisher - and K.T. Kim, who played in the Presidents Cup last year.
Meanwhile, Rod Spittle and Jim Rutledge headline the Canadian contingent taking part in the Champions Tour final qualifier this week in Arizona. Both played full time on the senior circuit in 2012 but failed to finish within the top 30 on the money list to retain their status. Spittle is back at Q-School for the first time in two years, his exemption for winning the AT&T Championship in 2010 having expired. Rutledge finished tied for second at last year's qualifying school to earn exempt status for the first time. Ironically, the Victoria, B.C. golfer actually earned more money on the Champions Tour the previous two years as a non-exempt player when he had to fight his way into fields through various Monday qualifiers. Three other Canadians are in the field at TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Florida - Ahmad Bateman, a former Nationwide and Asian Tour player from Windsor, Ont., but now living in the southeast Asian state of Brunei; Dave Wettlaufer of Kitchener, Ont., who played some on the European Senior Tour in 2012; and Marc Girouard of Saint-Sauveur, Que., the 2012 Quebec Senior Champion.
Only the top five at the end of this 72-hole qualifier will earn exempt status for the 2013 Champions Tour.
THIS WEEK IN GOLF
LPGA TOUR - TITLEHOLDERS
COURSE: TwinEagles Club, Eagle Course (6,529 yards, par 72).
PURSE: $1.5 million. Winner's share: $500,000.
TELEVISION: Golf Channel (Thursday-Saturday, 1:30-4 p.m., 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30-4 p.m., 6:30-9 p.m.).
OH CANADA: None entered
NOTES: Three players qualified for this season ending event from each tour event over the course of 2012. ...South Korea's Hee Young Park won the season-ending event last year at Grand Cypress in Orlando, Fla. ...Stacy Lewis is the first American player of the year since Beth Daniel in 1994. The Texan leads the tour with four victories. ...Inbee Park leads the money list with $2,266,638 and the Vare Trophy standings with an adjusted scoring average of 70.1975. Lewis is second on the money list with $1,863,956. Jiyai Shin is second in the Vare race at 70.2459, and Lewis is third at 70.2584.
EUROPEAN TOUR/ASIAN TOUR - HONG KONG OPEN
COURSE: Hong Kong Golf Club (6,734 yards, par 70).
PURSE: $2 million. Winner's share: $333,330.
TELEVISION: Golf Channel (Thursday-Sunday, 1:30-5:30 a.m., 4-6 p.m.).
OH CANADA: Andrew Parr
NOTES: Rory McIlroy is in the field along with Matteo Manassero, Matt Kuchar, Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie, Paul Casey, Y.E. Yang, Michael Campbell and John Daly. ...The top-ranked McIlroy finished third last weekend to wrap up the European Tour money title. McIlroy joined Luke Donald as the only players to top the PGA Tour and European money lists in the same season. Donald accomplished the feat last year.
EUROPEAN TOUR/SUNSHINE TOUR - SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN
COURSE: Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate (7,761 yards, par 72).
PURSE: $1.27 million. Winner's share: $201,090.
TELEVISION: Golf Channel (Thursday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.).
OH CANADA: None entered
NOTES: South Africans Charl Schwartzel, Tim Clarke, Branden Grace and Hennie Otto are in the field along with Germany's Martin Kaymer. Grace has four European Tour victories this year. ...First played in 1893, the tournament is the second oldest national championship behind the British Open (1860). ...Gary Player won a record 13 times, the first in 1956 and last in 1981.
PGA TOUR OF AUSTRALASIA - AUSTRALIAN MASTERS
COURSE: Kingston Heath Golf Club (7,116 yards, par 72).
PURSE: $1.04 million. Winner's share: $187,395.
TELEVISION: Golf Channel (Wednesday, 8 p.m.-1:30 a.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 8:30-1:30 p.m.).
OH CANADA: None entered
NOTES: Ian Poulter and fellow European Ryder Cup player Graeme McDowell are in the field along with Australians Adam Scott, Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Craig Parry and the 18-year-old Oliver Goss, who won the Western Australia Open on Oct. 28 at Royal Perth on the fifth playoff hole. .. Poulter won at Victoria Golf Club last year, beating Australia's Marcus Fraser by three strokes.
CHAMPIONS TOUR - Q-SCHOOL FINAL STAGE
COURSE: TPC Eagle Trace (par 72)
PURSE: $200,000. Winner's share: $30,000
OH CANADA: Jim Rutledge, Rod Spittle, Dave Wettlaufer, Ahmad Bateman, Marc Girouard
NOTES: Only the top five at the end of the four round tournament will earn full time promotion to the Champions Tour in 2013. ...Girouard is the 2012 Quebec Senior Champion and his brother-in-law is Martin Brodeur, all-star goalie for the New Jersey Devils. ...Spittle finished 43rd on the money list while Rutledge was 49th. Only the top 30 retained their Tour status for 2013. ...Of the 78 players in this week's Qualifying Tournament field, 14 have won on the PGA Tour. Steve Jones (1996 U.S. Open) is the only major championship winner in the field. ...
PGA TOUR - Q-SCHOOL SECOND STAGE
COURSES: Plantation Preserve (Plantation, FL), TPC Craig Ranch (McKinney, TX), Redstone Golf Club (Humble, TX), Southern Hills Plantation (Brooksville, FL), Hombre Golf Club (Panama City, FL), Bear Creek Golf Club (Murrieta, CA)
OH CANADA: Yohann Benson, David Byrne, Ryan Yip, Chris Baryla, Adam Cornelson, Dave Levesque, James Love, David McKenzie, Michael Gligic, Wes Heffernan, Richard Scott, Roger Sloan, Bryan DeCorso, Matt Hill, Jon Mills, Ted Brown, Eugene Wong, Stuart Anderson, Mitch Evanecz, Nick Taylor
ALL-AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL GOLF TOUR - VISTA VERDE
COURSE: Vista Verde Golf Club, Rio Verde, AZ
OH CANADA: Danny Sahl, Richard T Lee, Mike Bosch, Adam Pederson, Thomas Petts, Jace Walker, Darren Wallace, Scott Stiles, Mitch Gillis, Nathan Leonhardt, Eric Hawerchuck, Kent Eger, Andrew Funk
SUNCOAST LADIES SERIES
COURSE: LPGA International, Legends Course
OH CANADA: Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Sue Kim, Stephanie Sherlock, Kirby Dreher,