Ziemer's Monthly BC Golf Notes: It's Back To School For Wheeldon And Wong

Riley Wheeldon (L) And Eugene Wong (R) Are Getting Set For The Second Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada Q-School At Crown Isle - Image Courtesy Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Two British Columbians who are past winners on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada circuit will be back at qualifying school later this spring trying to regain their playing privileges.

Riley Wheeldon of Comox and North Vancouver’s Eugene Wong have both entered the tour’s qualifying school at Crown Isle Resort in Courtenay. That 72-hole event, the last of five Mackenzie Tour Q-schools this spring, goes May 2-5.

Wheeldon and Wong are both former B.C. Junior champions. Wheeldon won the 2013 Syncrude Boreal Open in Fort McMurray. That helped him finish second on the Mackenzie Tour money list that year, earning promotion to the Web.com Tour.

Wheeldon failed to capitalize on that promotion and was forced to return to the Mackenzie Tour. Players must finish in the top 60 to keep their playing privileges for the following year and Wheeldon finished 67th in 2016.

Wong, who had a stellar collegiate career at the University of Oregon, played only three events on the Mackenzie Tour last year and finished 157th on the money list. He won twice on the Mackenzie Tour in 2012 and has played most of his golf in recent years on the PGA Tour China circuit.

CHASING A DREAM: Wheeldon is one of several British Columbians who has been playing this winter on the Dreamchasers Pro Golf Tour in Phoenix. He shot 22-under to win that tour’s Legacy Championship in mid-February by six shots over Vancouver’s Ryan Williams. The next week, Williams won the tour’s Longbow Major. Williams shot an 11-under 60 in that 54-hole event and finished at 18-under par. He earned $6,400 and currently leads the tour’s money list with just over $12,000. Two other British Columbians are in the top 10. West Vancouver’s Seann Harlingten is second and Wheeldon is sixth.

HADWIN HOT: Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin followed up his win at the Valspar Championship with a sixth-place finish in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando. Although he is eligible for this week’s World Golf Championship-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tex., Hadwin will skip the big-money event. He’s got something more important to take care of. Hadwin will marry fiancee Jessica Kippenberger on Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz. The $313,200 Hadwin earned at the Arnold Palmer Invitational pushed him past the $5-million mark in career earnings.

MOVING ON UP: Hadwin’s recent fine play has sent him zooming up the Official World Golf Ranking. After beginning 2017 ranked 191st in the world, Hadwin now stands 44th. He is now in 10th place in standings for the International team for this fall’s Presidents Cup. Hadwin’s next appearance will come April 6-9 when he plays in his first Masters tourney at Augusta National. He will join fellow Canadians Mackenzie Hughes and 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir in the field.

DEVIL OF A TIME: Kimberley’s Jared du Toit, who is putting the finishing touches on his collegiate golf career at Arizona State University, continues to climb the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Du Toit finished fifth this past weekend at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational and now stands 14th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Du Toit has had a terrific spring season for the Sun Devils, who captured their first team title of the year at the ASU Invitational. Du Toit won last month’s The Prestige tourney in La Quinta, Calif., and has followed that up by finishing tied for 11th, tied for third and fifth in his last three outings.
Du Toit, a former B.C. Amateur champion who is Canada’s top-ranked amateur, plans to turn pro after graduating this spring from Arizona State with a marketing degree.

TUBB THIRD: Oliver Tubb, a teaching pro at University Golf Club in Vancouver, finished third at the Grey Goose World Par 3 Championship this past weekend at Turtle Bay Golf Club in Bermuda. Tubb finished the 36-hole event at three-under par, two shots behind winner Chris Ward of the United States. Tubb earned $6,200. Mark Kitts, an associate pro at Quilchena Golf Club in Richmond, tied for eighth place at even-par and took home $3,250.

THE TRADITION CONTINUES: The Tradition Golf Classic, the annual fund-raising tournament for the B.C. Golf Museum, has lined up a terrific venue for this spring’s tournament. It goes Monday, May 29 at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver and will be a 1 p.m. shotgun start. Entry is $250 which includes a reception and banquet after your round. If you would like to play and support a great cause, visit bcgolfhouse.com or call Mike Riste at 604-222-4653.

SCHEDULE SET: The PGA of BC has released its 2017 schedule. Highlights include: the Tournament of Champions, which goes May 29 at Nicklaus North Golf Club in Whistler; the Assistants and Senior Championships, which are scheduled for June 5-6 at Salmon Arm Golf Club; the Pro-Assistant Championship, which goes July 10-11 at Fairview Mountain Golf Club in Oliver; the Pro-Junior Championship, set for July 24 at Rivershore Golf Links in Kamloops; the PGA of BC Championship at Capilano Golf & Country Club in West Vancouver on Aug. 24-25; and the Club Professional Championship, which goes Sept. 18-19 at Victoria Golf Club.

CHIP SHOTS: The owner of Point Roberts Golf Course says he has a new equity partner and promises improvements will be made to the course. “Everything will be fixed up,” owner Kenje Nose told the All Point Bulletin in Point Roberts. The condition of the course, which gets most of its play from British Columbians, has deteriorated in recent years. It is scheduled to reopen in May. . .Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor, who didn’t get into the field for last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, will play in this week’s Puerto Rico Open. Taylor had his best finish of 2016 in Puerto Rico, where he tied for fifth place.