Canadian golfers Adam Hadwin, Corey Conners, Mackenzie Hughes and Nick Taylor have been ranked in the world top-100 this year. But they never forgot where they came from and what got them there. Neither have former Masters champion Mike Weir, Olympian Graham DeLaet, fellow PGA Tour veteran Roger Sloan, former PGA Tour player Ian Leggatt or Champions Tour player Stephen Ames.
They are among 11 pros or former pros who have donated $1,000 each for a bonus bursary to be paid out to the player or players who shoot the overall low round in each of the four Canada Life Series tournaments. The first of those is taking place this week on Bear Mountain in Langford on the mountain course with the second to be held next Monday through Wednesday on the valley course.
The player with the lowest score over a single round in each of the tournaments will receive $2,750 from the bursary, which was created in a partnerships with the Golf Canada Foundation. The prize will be shared in case of a tie.
Bursary contributors Hadwin, Conners, Hughes, Taylor, Weir, Sloan, Leggatt, Ames, DeLaet, Michael Gligic and David Hearn all played on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada or its forerunner the Canadian Tour in the formative years of their pro careers. That included the DC Bank Victoria Open presented by the Times Colonist, which has been a Canadian tour fixture since 1981.
“I think this is a great initiative,” said Keith Dagg, a director and key dynamo behind the Victoria tournament for nearly four decades.
“Every week we turn on the TV and see these players who came to Victoria —and especially the Canadians who make us so proud. Just look at what those Canadian guys are doing on the PGA Tour. It’s really special that they have gotten together to make this bursary to remember what got them to where they are now, and to help out the next Canadian generation. I remember we gave Conners and Taylor their first starts in Victoria. A Canadian tour is worth fighting to keep.”
The four $50,000 Canada Life tournaments are a consolation for the cancelled 2020 Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada season, so every little bit counts for these aspiring pros. After the back-to-back tournaments this week and next on Bear Mountain, the mini tour concludes with tournaments Sept. 2-4 and Sept. 9-11 at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley. The series champion over the four tournaments will earn a berth into the 2021 RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s in Toronto.
The 2020 PGA Tour season has started amid the pandemic but the big-league golfers know it’s not the same at the lower levels of the pro game.
“We’re pretty fortunate that we’ve been able to start playing again,” said Abbotsford’s Hadwin, in a statement.
“Not only that, but we’re pretty fortunate where we are in life, as well. Being on the PGA Tour is the ultimate goal of all the guys who are playing. I think it’s our duty and job to pay it forward a little. A lot of us have come through the Mackenzie Tour. I know what it’s like traveling across [the country]. You’re not making a ton of money and are hoping to get to the next level. This is nice that we can help out and give those guys a little something extra to play for. It’s not much, but every little bit counts.”
Evan Holmes not only agrees, but is in good position to claim the first bursary after scorching Bear Mountain with an opening-round score of 63 on Monday.
“That was in the back of my mind when I was recording that round,” said Holmes.
“The guys trying to make it now in the pro game are really appreciative of what some of these successful, more older guys have done in creating the bursary, because we have been inspired by these players and really look up to them.”
The initiative is the brainchild of Leggatt.
“It’s been amazing the support we’ve received from the guys. That enthusiasm is due to one reason: We all want to give back,” he said, in a statement.
“I think I have a pretty solid understanding of where these young guys playing the Canada Life Series are in their careers. We all do because we all started that way, needing money and help to get going.
“I didn’t need to have long conversations with any of these [alumni] players about writing a check for this. It was literally a phone call or a text to each guy. I take pride in all of us coming together to help the next generation of young players.”
ON THE COURSE: Calgary’s Holmes took a one shot lead at nine under after two rounds heading into today’s final round on the Bear. Lawren Rowe of Victoria was in second place at one stroke back and Zach Anderson of Nanaimo was third at three strokes behind Holmes. No fans are allowed on the course due to pandemic guidelines.