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Organizers plan for DC Bank Victoria Open in June; worries about golf event’s future

One thing does not necessarily lead to the other.
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Doc Redman tees off during the Bayview Place DC Bank Open at Uplands Gold Club in June 2019. Redman finished second in the tournament.

One thing does not necessarily lead to the other.

The 2021 Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada — which includes the DC Bank Victoria Open presented by the Times Colonist from June 3 to 6 at Uplands — is still on beam for a season despite the cancellation of the RBC Canadian Open.

“There is no direct correlation between the two,” said Scott Pritchard, executive director of the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada. “We are preparing as best we can to have a season.”

It is all the difference between a one-off event, such as the Canadian Open, and a season tour such as the PGA Tour Canada.

The Canadian Open, from June 10 to 13, would have required 600 players and officials, mostly from the U.S., to quarantine for two weeks upon entering Canada.

That would have meant missing the $9.3-million Memorial Tournament from, June 3 to 6, in Dublin, Ohio, then facing any American restrictions upon re-entering the country for the U.S. Open the following week at ­Torrey Pines. Clearly, no players of note would have come to the Canadian Open this year.

But the two-week quarantine is doable if you are an aspiring pro knowing you are going to spend the entire spring and summer on tour in Canada. That’s why officials remain confident there will be pro golf in June at Uplands and across the country as the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada rolls through.

“We are focused on the Tour as normally conducted,” said Pritchard.

The 2020 Tour was cancelled due to the pandemic, but an abbreviated four tournament season was salvaged, including two tournaments at Bear Mountain.

Keith Dagg, key organizer of the Victoria Open, has fond memories of players such as Tony Finau attacking Uplands and Steve Stricker winning his first pro tournament in Victoria before their PGA careers.

But Dagg said he is more concerned about future years than this year and it has nothing to do with the pandemic.

“We are secure for this year, but we need a title co-sponsor [along with DC Bank] to make it whole for the years to come,” said Dagg, one of four co-founders of the event nearly four decades ago, and the leading member of the board of directors.

It could end after this year, Dagg added bluntly: “Do we want this event or don’t we? It’s been an amazing run and it would be a shame to lose this. It’s been voted the No. 1 stop on the Canadian Tour and has raised $550,000 for charity over the past five years.”

Dagg recalled it cost $50,000 to mount the first Victoria Open in 1981 and it costs $600,000 to stage now. It is the most significant annual pro sports event on the Island and has an alumni list of players who went on to the PGA Tour that includes Stricker, Finau, Brandt Jobe, Todd Hamilton, Craig Parry, Ken Duke, Stuart Appleby, Mike Weir, Kirk Triplett, Chris DiMarco, Scott McCarron, Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor, Corey Conners and C.T. Pan.

The Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada leads to the Korn Ferry Tour, which is the entry point to the PGA Tour. The former Canadian Tour became the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada in 2013 and its alumni over the past eight years includes 41 PGA Tour players and 232 Korn Ferry Tour players.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com