Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Playoff-free run may come to end

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TWO streaks collide head-on this week at the Players Cup.

The Canadian Tour has experienced three straight tournaments with playoffs.

If a fourth is in the offing, it will end a playoff-free run in Manitoba that has lasted more than 20 years.

The last time Winnipeg's Canadian Tour event was decided by extra holes was way back in 1989, when Stu Hendley defeated Dave Barr and Steve Chapman at the Manitoba Open at Southwood.

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Two exemptions to the RBC Canadian Open are on the line for Canadian Tour pros this week.

Golf Canada has reduced its invitations to the Canadian Tour from six to two this year, so an automatic invite to the Players Cup winner will not be made as it has the previous four years.

Heading into this week's play, Canadians Matt Hill and Cory Renfrew hold down the top two spots on the money list and the Open berths that will go with them at the conclusion of the Players Cup.

Tour officials said this week their math shows that any of the top 12 players on the money list this week could claim the spots, so that puts six Canadians in the running in that department.

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This week's field includes five former PGA Tour members and two veterans who have returned to compete in Canada.

Boyd Summerhays of Scottsdale, Ariz., Will Strickler of Dallas, Mike Grob of Billings, Mont., Wil Collins of Albuquerque, N.M., and Jaime Gomez of McAllen, Texas have all played the big tour in the past.

Former Canadian Tour champs Brian Kontak (four wins) of Phoenix and Scott Petersen of Parker, Colo. (two wins) are also here this week.

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Pine Ridge is not long by tour standards, 6,591 yards on the tournament card at par 71.

"You can make a lot of birdies," said Abbotsford, B.C.'s Nick Taylor, recalling his first Players Cup in 2011. "Last year I made a ton of birdies but I also made a ton of bogeys. With the greens and how they're set up and with the pins they'll have, you'll have opportunities for birdies but if you put your ball in the wrong spot, you'll make a bogey in a second."

Taylor made 17 bogeys over four rounds last year, but still finished in the top 10.

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The youngest player in this week's event is 15-year-old Kota Kagasaki, who was born in Japan but now lives in Australia.

Kagasaki turned pro after the earthquake and tsunami disasters last year and one of the reasons was with hope to provide some in his native country with some sporting joy.

The oldest player among this week's 156 is 51-year-old amateur Todd Teplitski, the 16-time Pine Ridge club champion who will be outside his comfort zone in one small way this week.

The former Willingdon Cup team member is seen almost exclusively in shorts on the golf course no matter what the weather, but Canadian Tour rules dictate long pants only during professional competition.

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Tickets for this week's championship are available at the Pine Ridge entry gate and online at www.theplayerscup.ca . The $20 pass is good for all four days of play and public parking for the event is next to the course. Just follow the signs off Garven Road.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2012 D4

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