Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cup field bursting with top swingers

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Six recent winners including this year's on-fire player Joel Dahmen are ready to take on Pine Ridge Golf Club for next week's $150,000 Players Cup, the fifth event of the PGA Tour Canada season.

Dahmen has won two of the three 2014 events so far and is the runaway leader of the money list and the race for "The Five" automatic graduation spots to the Web.com Tour.

Pine Ridge, at 6,600 yards, is a short venue for tour golf of any kind but it won't be brawn that decides the champion next week, it will be touch around the Donald Ross course's exceptional greens complexes.

The Canadian circuit's new management, the PGA Tour itself, is overseeing a ramping up of quality.

Players Cup executive director Ryan Hart said Friday based on next week's entry list, 80 per cent of the field will not have played Pine Ridge previously. Immediate past performance and early year Q-School qualifiers -- that includes former two-time Manitoba Amateur champ Jordan Krantz -- are the tour's new priority.

Along with Dahmen, Stephen Gangluff, Max Gilbert, Joe Panzeri, North Dakota's Josh Persons and Riley Wheeldon are the tour's recent winners scheduled to be here, along with 10 exempted members of the Web.com Tour that may well include names like John Mallinger, who has entered.

"The PGA Tour is very serious about wanting the best, most competitive field possible," Hart said.

To that end, Hart has used a sponsor's exemption to make sure that 2012 Players Cup champ Chris Killmer can get in the field.

The list of local exemptions is short, but includes defending Manitoba Amateur champ Derek East of St. Charles, junior champ Travis Fredborg of Selkirk and Pine Ridge's Josh Wytinck, last year's co-winner with Aaron Cockerill for the province's player of the year.

Ten entries will come from Monday's qualifier at Southwood, where more than 80 players have entered.

Tournament organizers, in keeping with their priority to generate support for charitable endeavours, will conduct several pro-am outings Monday and Tuesday in addition to the Boston Pizza FORE Kids golf day on Monday.

As well, four-time PGA Tour winner, former Canadian Tour member and Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay III will be present early in the week for several functions, including a golf clinic on Pine Ridge's range at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Purchase of a weekly pass (available at www.theplayerscup.ca) will grant admission to the clinic.

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Southwood Golf and Country Club's continuing transition back to normal business gained an added local layer this year with the hiring of Winnipegger Jeff Scott as the club's general manager and COO.

Scott replaces Miles Mortensen, who departed to take on another emerging golf course project by Southwood architect Tom McBroom just west of Halifax.

Southwood's move to its new home in 2011, the first such full-scale course relocation in Canada since the 1971 relocation of York Downs, made it the most expensive golf course project in Manitoba history.

Scott, 48, returns to Winnipeg after an eight-year absence with stints in Calgary and as chief operating office of the London Hunt and Country Club, his most recent gig.

ScoreGolf Magazine's club manager of the year in 2011 brings previous Manitoba experience (Pine Ridge, Wildewood and Hecla/Falcon Lake) along with highly regarded credentials -- Honours Society CCM certification, and certified chief executive (CCE) designations. He is a current member and past president of the Canadian Society of Club Managers.

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Last year's co-winners of the Manitoba golfer of the year award have captured two available exemptions to the Canadian Amateur scheduled for Elmhurst and Southwood in early August.

The Elmhurst Invitational offered those two prizes last weekend and Teulon's Aaron Cockerill was crowned champion of the event. Cockerill posted a brilliant first-day 66 and when the tournament was forced to scale back to 27 holes because of the hideous weather, he had a six-shot victory over runner-up Wytinck.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2014 C4

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