California Dreamin for Canadian Tour

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Canadian Tour-LargeSTOCKTON, Calif. -- Players will be California Dreamin this week as the Canadian Tour sets up shop on the west coast for the Northern California Classic presented by the City of Stockton.

Opening round action gets underway Thursday at the spectacular Brookside Country Club, with 144 players chasing the $100,000 US purse.

Defending champion Jim Seki will look to kick-start his season after a slow start. In 2005, Seki captured his first Tour title with a two-shot win over Rob Johnson, a three-time Canadian Tour champion.

But things have not gone as smoothly for Seki in the early stages of this season. The native of Palo Alto, Calif. missed both cuts in the season-opening swing in Austin, Texas.

Rob Oppenheim and Brian Guetz have used wins in Texas to become the early co-pacesetters for the Rolex Player of the Year Award, given to the Canadian Tours money leader at seasons end. Both will be in Stockton searching for a second win of the year as well as a $16,000 winners cheque.

Local charities will once again benefit from the Northern California Classic. Focused Sports and Entertainment, the tournaments promoter, announced last week that the First Tee of Stockton and the Dameron Hospital Foundation will be the charity partners this week.

If Jason Higton is to notch his second Canadian Tour win, there is no better time than this week to get it done. Not only is Higton from Fresno, Calif. but the 2004 Corona Ixtapa Classic champion spent his college days at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. Matt Bettencourt of nearby Modesto and Stocktons Ricky Barnes, the 2002 U.S. amateur champion who is playing this week on a sponsors exemption, will also be looking to win in their own backyard.

The Golf Channel will be in Stockton taping footage for the third episode of Chasing The Dream, the Canadian Tours new magazine show airing on the network known as Golfs Home. The first airing of the Stockton show can be seen on Wed., March 29 at 6:00 pm EST (3:00 PST).

Keith Huber, Jeff Lai, Chad Spencer and Kevin White earned berths in the tournament during Sundays qualifying round at Brookside.