By Brian Decker
THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – The Mackenzie Tour season resumes this week at the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel, the fifth event of the 2017 season.
Dates: July 10-16
Course: Whitewater Golf Club (Thunder Bay, Ont.)
Par/Yards: 36-36 (7,293 yards)
2016 champion: Taylor Moore
Purse: $175,000/$31,500 winner’s prize
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Twitter: @StaalOpen / #StaalOpen
Making a strong community impact
When it comes to making an impact off the course, the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel leads the way on the Mackenzie Tour. Since 2014, the event has been a partnership with the Staal Family Foundation, the genesis of the charitable efforts by the NHL’s Staal brothers – Eric, Jordan, Marc and Jared along with their families and parents, Henry and Linda – and raised $573,500 for families battling cancer in Northwestern Ontario. Last year alone, the event raised $250,000 and helped the Mackenzie Tour surpass $1 million in charitable donations for the first time.
Du Toit earns status for remainder of 2017
After turning professional earlier this spring, Kimberley, B.C.’s Jared du Toit has made the most of his opportunity to play on the Mackenzie Tour, making the cut in all three starts (two on sponsor exemptions, one via a top-20 finish at the GolfBC Championship) to rank 37th on the Order of Merit. As a non-member in the top 60 on the season-long money list after the first event, du Toit earned conditional status for the remainder of the 2017 season and will tee it up in his first event as a Mackenzie Tour member this week.
Looking back at the 2016 Staal Foundation Open
In 2016, Edmond, Oklahoma’s Taylor Moore earned his first professional win at the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel, shooting a final round 6-under 66 to win by three over Corey Conners. The win secured Moore a spot in the RBC Canadian Open the following week and eventually the third spot on the Order of Merit, along with Web.com Tour status for 2017. Moore currently ranks 31st on the Web.com Tour Money List.
Spaun makes leap from Thunder Bay to PGA TOUR
Among the 10 PGA TOUR era (2013-present) Mackenzie Tour alumni competing on the PGA TOUR this year is 2015 Staal Foundation Open champion J.J. Spaun, who used a victory in Thunder Bay to propel himself towards the Order of Merit title and exempt status on the Web.com Tour for 2016. Spaun currently ranks 85th in the FedExCup standings with three top-10 finishes on the PGA TOUR this season.
Five-time Stanley Cup champ to tee it up amongst the pros
Five-time Stanley Cup Champion and NHL Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr will make his sixth career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week, playing on a sponsor exemption. The goaltender was a staple of the Edmonton Oilers’ 1980s dynasty and was recently named as one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players. He played twice on the Mackenzie Tour in 2016, missing the cut at the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel and the Syncrude Oil Country Championship presented by AECON.
Staal Foundation Open Sponsor exemptions:
Evan DeGrazia, Thunder Bay, Ont.
Chris Gardner, Thunder Bay, Ont.
Grant Fuhr, Edmonton, Alta.
Walt Keating, Thunder Bay, Ont.
Matt Hill, Sarnia, Ont.
Blake Palmer, Dawsonville, Ga.
Dustin Barr, Thunder Bay, Ont.
Brett Shewchuck, Thunder Bay, Ont.
What’s at stake
Players are competing this season for position on the season-ending Order of Merit, and look to gain access to the Web.com Tour in 2018. Below is a breakdown of the status available.
Order of Merit position
|1||Exempt on 2018 Web.com Tour|
|2-5||Conditional status on Web.com Tour|
|6-10||Exemption into final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School|
|11-20||Exemption into second stage of Web.com Tour Q-School|
RBC Canadian Open spots on the line
Following the Mackenzie Investments Open presented by Jaguar Laval, the top three players on the Order of Merit will earn exemptions into the PGA TOUR’s RBC Canadian Open, July 24-30 at Glen Abbey Golf Club. Thanks to his win in Kelowna and a runner-up last week at the Players Cup, Order of Merit leader Robby Shelton leads the chase so far. Below are the top five players on the Order of Merit through four events.
1. Robby Shelton $55,473
2. Lee McCoy $36,250
3. Kramer Hickok $34,653
4. Max Rottluff $32,454
5. T.J. Vogel $24,378
Open Qualifying took place at Fort William Golf & Country Club.
(bold denotes Canadian).
1. Eric Hawerchuk 67
T2. Alexander Gutesha 68
T2. Justin Martinson 68
T4. Max Greyserman 69
T4. David Rose 69
T4. Cameron White 69
T7. Cristobal Del Solar 70
T7. Charlie Kern 70
T7. Garrett Fey 70
T7. Josh Hart 70
Notes on the field
- 25 Canadians are in the field.
- 2016-17 tournament winners in the field: Lee McCoy (2017 Freedom 55 Financial Open); Robby Shelton (2017 GolfBC Championship); Kramer Hickok (2017 Players Cup)
Mackenzie Tour alumni notes
- 17 Mackenzie Tour alumni, including nine members from 2016, are inside the top-75 on the Web.com Tour Money List and in position to make the Web.com Tour Finals.
- The PGA TOUR announced earlier this year that it will begin testing the use of distance measuring devices during competition at select tournaments this year on the Web.com Tour, Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, with the GolfBC Championship being the first Mackenzie Tour event to allow their use. The Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada will test at: the GolfBC Championship, June 15-18 in Kelowna, British Columbia; the Players Cup, July 6 – 9 in Winnipeg, Manitoba; the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel, July 13 – 16 in Thunder Bay, Ontario; and the Mackenzie Investments Open presented by Jaguar Laval, July 20 – 23 in Mirabel, Quebec.