Canadian Tour Begins Summer Swing

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Canadian Tour-LargeSURREY, BC -- The Canadian Tour begins its summer swing north of the 49th parallel this week as the Greater Vancouver Charity Classic is ready to go on the west coast.

An international field of 156 players will take on the 6808-yard, par-72 Hazelmere GC in suburban Vancouver. The event, which has a $100,000 purse, is the first in Canada after five stops in the United States and Mexico.

The GVCC will benefit the B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation, Canada's largest full-service children's hospital.

Canadian amateur star James Lepp of Abbotsford, BC makes his professional debut this week. At the 2003 GVC, Lepp became the first amateur since Ron McMillan (1996) to win a Tour event, holding off Champions Tour winner Mark Johnson and Nathan Fritz by five shots.

Trevor Dodds of Namibia, who won back-to-back money crowns on the Canadian Tour in 1995 and 1996, will also play his first Tour event in a decade.

B.C. golf legend Dave Barr, a winner on the PGA, Champions and Canadian Tours, makes his season debut at Hazelmere. South African star Thomas Aiken will also play his first tournament as a Canadian Tour member. The Canadian and South African Sunshine Tours are in the first year of a reciprocal that sees the top player from each tour gain exempt status on the other circuit.

Current money leader Rob Oppenheim of the U.S. will not play at the GVCC meaning compatriot Brian Guetz, who currently sits second in earnings, has an opportunity to close the gap.

The GVCC marks the first full-field event in Vancouver since Ryan Miller won the 2004 Greater Vancouver Classic. Seven-time PGA Tour and Masters champion Mike Weir the BC Tel Pacific Open in Vancouver in 1997 on his way to the Canadian Tour Order of Merit title.

Ten Canadian Tour members, including Brad Fritsch of Manotick, Ont., have qualified for this weeks U.S. Open in New York.