CHRIS KILLMER took some time to reflect during a practice round at the Pine Ridge Golf Club on Wednesday. The 26-year-old hoisted The Players Cup in 2012 and he's hoping to do it again this year.
"The course is in great shape, and I have a good feeling for this week. I just finished up on 18 and it brought back a lot of memories," Killmer said. "I just took a moment to look around and really kind of reflect on how cool of an experience that was."
Killmer defeated Vince Covello last year in a four-hole playoff. It was the first tiebreaker at the Manitoba event in 23 years.
The Bellingham, Wash., resident has been keeping busy since winning the championship. He got married less than a month after last year's event and went to qualifying school for an opportunity to earn status on the PGA Tour. Killmer didn't make it past the first stage, but feels optimistic about this PGA Tour Canada season.
"I felt like my game was good but it's a tough tournament to go through and just like many people, I didn't get through," Killmer said.
Killmer missed the PGA Tour Canada cuts at the Times Colonist Island Savings Open in Victoria in June and the Dakota Dunes Open in Saskatoon. His 5-under score wasn't enough to make the cut in Saskatoon earlier this month, but it didn't get him down.
"It wasn't really anything to get discouraged about, but I was getting pretty anxious to play a weekend after missing the first two," Killmer said.
Killmer made his first cut of the year in Lethbridge, Alta., at last week's Syncrude Boreal Open, and finished tied for 19th place. After three events Killmer sits 56th on the earnings list, but a strong finish this week and a good chunk of the $150,000 would move him up the standings.
Players on the PGA Tour Canada are working towards finishing in the top five this season. Those players will earn a tour card for the Web.com Tour, which gives them a chance to work towards a PGA Tour card.
"Coming here, I had so many good thoughts and memories of my play from last year and even the year before," Killmer said. "I feel good. I feel like my game has gotten better and I feel like I'm striving towards the Web.com. I feel like whether it's getting top five through the tour this year or going to Q-School, it's something that can happen this year."
The new incentive for golfers hoping to make it to the PGA Tour, in addition to the quality of up-and-coming players, has made this year's Players Cup one of the most difficult fields.
"There's always been good players, but the quality of the players is better and deeper. It used to be kind of the same guys near the top and this year there's a lot of those same guys up there, but there's also a lot of guys up there who have never played the tour before," he said.
Even after winning at Pine Ridge last year, Killmer doesn't think he necessarily knows the course better than any of his competitors. However, he does think he edges out the competition in one aspect, thanks to a golf course that provides some good memories for him.
"Friends have joked that I have all the secrets when we go for a practice round," he said. "I don't know more than anybody else who is here. I may have a bit more of a positive mojo than others though."