Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Qualifiers have reason to believe

Last year Hoge got in on Monday, won on Sunday

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The spot is victory in itself but if last summer's Players Cup qualifying round proved anything, it's not to limit your goals.

Last July at Elmhurst, Tom Hoge of Fargo, after nearly missing his tee time because of faulty directions, earned entry into the Canadian Tour event. By Sunday, he was the tournament champion and today plies his trade on the Tour.

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Fast forward to Monday and the fortunate four heading across the street for the main event at Pine Ridge starting Thursday include one of Hoge's good friends, a former Manitoba junior champion, a rookie pro from Toronto and a veteran former Canadian Tour player.

David Lang of Toronto's York Downs fired a four-under 67 on a warm and windless day -- in other words, perfect -- to set the pace Monday.

Claiming the other three spots were 2011 provincial junior champ Myles Sullivan of Pine Ridge, Fargo's Ben Freeman and Calgary's Drew Hartt, all in at two-under 69.

Lang had a good memory of Elmhurst. The first time he saw the course was last summer when he finished tied-20th at the Canadian Amateur.

"I was just looking for tournamants to play in this year," Lang said after a round of seven birdies and three bogeys. "A bunch of my friends were playing in this one so I decided to try to Monday qualify and it fit in with my schedule."

He played some in Florida over the winter after turning pro, and in some events in the Ontario-based Great Lakes Tour.

Lang said he's never seen Pine Ridge before, but liked its description -- not long by tour standards and with some confounding, sloped greens.

"I don't hit it overly long," he said. "Shorter and tighter is more my style of course."

Sullivan, after a freshman year at the University of Utah, made five birdies and stayed out of trouble.

"Just was consistent all day, birdied the first hole, and whenever I made a bogey, I followed up with a birdie," he said. "A steady day, never got into any trouble."

After his first attempt to play the Canadiain Tour event, he said "it could be an awesome experience."

And it will be on his home course, which figures not to hurt.

"It might help a little, having played there a bit, maybe know how the greens are rolling," Sullivan said. "Maybe it's a bit of a comfort level at a home course. I think it'll be enjoyable."

Of the qualifiers, Freeman is most aware of Hoge's springboard to a bigger stage from 2011's Players Cup week.

He was also here to see it, making it through as well from Monday qualifying.

"Tom played well last year, it clicked that week," Freeman, 23, said. "When things do, you have to be able to run with it, not be afraid to go low.

"Me and him, we're the same age, went to the same high school, graduated together. We've played junior golf since 13. He's a great player. It just shows you that it's feasible to get up there. You put it together at the right time."

After failing to get through last Monday's qualifying in Saskatoon, Freeman is well aware of golf's cycles.

"I won my first event as a pro last year, a step in the right direction," he said. "It's been back and forth, moments when you're playing well and it seems easy and monents when you're playing bad and you have to try to fight through it. It's easy to play when you're playing well. The hard part is figure out how to play when you're playing bad."

He has filed away a few items of knowledge from last year's missed-cut at Pine Ridge.

"It's like any round, patience," he said. "A short and tight golf course, but there are lots of birdies out there, too.But you can also make mistakes and I kind of did that last year in the first round, shot myself in the foot.

"I didn't play all that bad. You just have to stay patient."




At Elmhurst

x-David Lang 32-35--67

x-Ben Freeman 34-35--69

x-Myles Sullivan 34-35--69

x-Drew Hartt 34-35--69

Kevin McAlpine 34-36--70

Brad Kirton 37-33--70

Charlie Boyechko 35-37--72

Tomas Campbell 34-38--72


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2012 C4

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