B.C. Pros Keen To Play In Four-Event Summer Series Announced By Mackenzie Tour
The First Two Events Of The Canada Life Series Will Be Held At Bear Mountain’s Valley And Mountain Courses In Langford - Image Courtesy Bear Mountain
By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf
The Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada circuit could certainly use some additional Canadian content and a summer series of four events announced Friday will help address that issue.
The Mackenzie Tour has partnered with Canada Life for four 54-hole tournaments that will be for Canadian residents only. The first two tournaments will be held next month at the Bear Mountain Resort near Victoria with the final two events scheduled for the TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley in early September.
Each event of what is being called the Canada Life Series will offer a purse of $50,000 Cdn. More importantly, the series will offer players an opportunity to earn some status on next year’s Mackenzie Tour.
“I think what the Mackenzie Tour is doing is awesome,” says Kelowna pro John Mlikotic, who plans to play in all four events. “It is a great opportunity for us because it's going to be for Canadian residents only. There is going to be status for next year involved depending on where you finish on the Order of Merit.
“I am super-excited. It kind of gives us a chance to display a little bit more Canadian talent at a higher level and there will be guys from these four events who will get status next year. It will be great to get some more Canadians out there playing and I am really excited for the opportunity.”
The top points earner in the Canada Life Series will be granted conditional Mackenzie Tour status and guaranteed at least six starts in 2021. That player will also receive an exemption into the 2021 RBC Canadian Open.
Players finishing second through fifth on the series points list will be guaranteed at least two starts on next year’s Mackenzie Tour. Players finishing sixth through 10th will get a discounted rate on their entry to a Mackenzie Tour qualifying school next spring.
Langley’s James Allenby, who already has guaranteed status on next year’s Mackenzie Tour, plans to play in the four summer events. “My initial feeling would be to play in all of them,” said Allenby, who finished 17th on last year’s Mackenzie Tour money list.
James Allenby - image credit Chuck Russell/Golf Canada
Allenby is particularly intrigued by the Canadian Open exemption being offered. “That is certainly a decent incentive to play in all four and even if that wasn’t there, I think I’d probably play all four,” he said.
Fields will consist of professionals and elite amateurs, as well as Mackenzie Tour members, regardless of citizenship, who are already in Canada. Fields are estimated to be between 90 and 120 players at each event.
Exempt players for the Canada Life Series will include any Canadian professional who has held status on any of the PGA TOUR’s international tours since 2018.
In addition, Golf Canada will receive six exemptions for members of its national teams. Canada Life will have two sponsor exemptions at each event and both host facilities will also get two exemptions. The rest of the field will be filled on a first come, first served basis.
Kaleb Gorbahn - image credit Chuck Russell/Golf Canada
Smithers pro Kaleb Gorbahn is hoping he can get a spot in the events. “When I saw the announcement I have been scrambling all morning trying to figure out whether I can get in,” Gorbahn said. “I don’t have that status. I missed my Canada status by one and I missed Latin by two. So I don’t know exactly know how I am going to get into the events.
“Obviously, I am very interested. I definitely want to play in them. Based on the criteria, I don’t believe there are enough members in Canada in general to fill the fields completely. I know there are going to be spots open. They have said they are going to do a first come, first serve and I want to be first on that list.”
Gorbahn turned pro last year after finishing his collegiate golf career at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has been playing on the Vancouver Golf Tour this summer. “I think it’s awesome that they are doing it, I think it is a great opportunity for the Canadian players, especially people without status or those who have lost status to get some back,” Gorbahn said.
Kevin Stinson of Mission, who won last week’s Ledgeview Open on the VGT, is also interested in playing in at least the two B.C. events on the series. “I am interested but I'm not eligible as of now,” Stinson said. “I haven’t had (Mackenzie Tour) status since 2014 or ’15 and eligibility starts in 2018. But there might be potential to get a sponsor’s exemption.”
The series begins Aug. 10-12 at Bear Mountain’s Mountain Course. The second event goes Aug. 17-19 at Bear Mountain’s Valley Course. After a one-week break the series shifts to Toronto. The third and fourth events go Sept. 2-4 and Sept. 9-11 at TPC Toronto’s Heathlands Course.
The entire 2020 Mackenzie Tour season was cancelled due to the COVID-19. Players will retain exempt status they earned in the 2019 season for 2021. Only three Canadians finished inside the top 60 on the 2019 money list to retain their exempt status and one of them, Ontario’s Taylor Pendrith, graduated to the Korn Ferry Tour.
Allenby and Riley Wheeldon of Comox were the only other Canadians to finish in the top 60.