October 16, 2018

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Scheif hopes to not let the Wheels fall off

Filling Wheeler's big shoes at Players Cup no small feat, Jets centre says

Mark Scheifele during Dale Hawerchuk's celebrity golf tournament and fundraiser at Pine Ridge Golf Club Thursday afternoon. 130627 June 27, 2013 Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press</p>

Mark Scheifele during Dale Hawerchuk's celebrity golf tournament and fundraiser at Pine Ridge Golf Club Thursday afternoon. 130627 June 27, 2013 Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press

Mark Scheifele is no professional golfer. But he's going to get to live and play like one for a few days later this month — even though he admits the competition will provide a stiff test for both his skillset and his patience.

"It’s a pretty cool thing and trying to stay calm is my biggest thing. I get pretty angry sometimes if my game’s not going as well as I would like it to go," the star centre with the Winnipeg Jets said Wednesday.

"I know it’s going to be fun as long as I don’t have too many bad shots and break a club or something like that."

Scheifele will be among the field of 156 who tee it up at Southwood Golf & Country Club for the Players Cup beginning Aug. 16. As a high-profile sponsor's exemption with no experience at this level, his goal is simply to enjoy the tournament and maybe find a way to make it to the weekend.

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Mark Scheifele is no professional golfer. But he's going to get to live and play like one for a few days later this month — even though he admits the competition will provide a stiff test for both his skillset and his patience.

"It’s a pretty cool thing and trying to stay calm is my biggest thing. I get pretty angry sometimes if my game’s not going as well as I would like it to go," the star centre with the Winnipeg Jets said Wednesday.

"I know it’s going to be fun as long as I don’t have too many bad shots and break a club or something like that."

'I know it's going to be fun as long as I don't have too many bad shots and break a club or something like that' — Jets centre Mark Scheifele, on his week as a tour golfer

Scheifele will be among the field of 156 who tee it up at Southwood Golf & Country Club for the Players Cup beginning Aug. 16. As a high-profile sponsor's exemption with no experience at this level, his goal is simply to enjoy the tournament and maybe find a way to make it to the weekend.

"To play in an event like this is pretty special and I’m excited to get out there and play a great course at Southwood and hopefully bring some more people out to watch the beautiful game of golf," said Scheifele. "I’m just hoping to play good golf both days (Thursday and Friday). If that makes the cut, then that makes the cut."

That may take a minor miracle, considering the typical Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada cut at tournaments so far this summer has been several strokes under par.

"A good score for me? I’d say I’m a standard low-80s player. If I actually just ended up playing here and there, once a week, once every other week, that’s where I’ll usually shoot. Obviously I’m trying to hit the range a few more times and get on the putting green and work on my game. I’ve shot mid- to high-70s before so hopefully I’ll have some days like that. At the end of the day, it’s going to be fun but I’m a competitor so I’m definitely working at my game hard these next two weeks," said Scheifele.

Of course, he wasn't invited to the tournament with the idea of winning it. It's all about bringing more eyeballs to the product, something tour pros understand and endorse.

"That's super cool, especially in a market like Winnipeg where hockey is so crazy," said Aaron Cockerill, the lone Manitoba regular on the Mackenzie Tour. "I think that'll probably draw some attention to it from people who otherwise wouldn't have been interested. And I think that can only be good for our game, for the tour, for Southwood, for everybody."

Scheifele was a late addition to the event, taking the place of Jets captain Blake Wheeler who was originally given the exemption. But the veteran had to pull out due to what's been described as "unforeseen personal commitments." Scheifele said fans would have been in for a bigger treat if it was Wheeler in the mix.

"He’s better than me. He’s an unbelievable golfer. I think I’m pretty good, I feel like I’m a pretty solid golfer. But he’s special. Like, if he played more, now he’s got three little ones and a lot of commitments with them. But if he were to play more he could make some waves with the golf club, I’m sure," said Scheifele.

Scheifele will have his Winnipeg friend Gregg Derlago caddying for him during the tournament. The pair got to know each other during Scheifele's first season in Winnipeg, when he billeted with the Derlago family before being returned to junior.

"I’ve done a lot of golfing with him. He’s an awesome guy. He’s great at reading putts. My putting is my biggest thing I need to work on the most. He’s good at reading greens. I thought I’d pick him and he’d be able to keep me calm. If I picked somebody else, you know if I had a bad shot the club might be going into the audience," said Scheifele.

Scheifele grew up in Ontario and golfed regularly as a child with his father. He's played several rounds this summer, including Riviera in California with Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey and Manitoba Moose goalie Eric Comrie. His brother has also been helping him prepare for the challenge ahead.

"I’m a big nine hole player. I grew up, my dad loved the twilight rate because he was cheap, it was only about 20 bucks to play as many holes as you could so I was a big nine hole player growing up. I love golf, I try to play as much as I can. Whenever I can get on a course I try to," he said.

"It will be fun to play in an actual tournament. The last few rounds I’ve been putting everything out, no gimmies. Trying to play pretty legit."

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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