Play gets underway Thursday at the Club de golf de L'ile de Montral (South Course) with players competing for $150,000 in prize money. The Tours 12th official event of 2004 is a prelude to the season-ending Bay Mills Open Players Championship, to be contested next month in Michigan.
During the Tours last visit to Quebec in 2002, Hank Kuehne defeated Michael Harris in a playoff for his second win of the season. Kuehne would take over top spot on the money list with the victory and not look back on his way to the Order of Merit crown. The previous year, New Zealands Paul Devenport drained an 85-foot eagle putt on the final hole before defeating Ken Duke in a playoff at the 2001 TELUS Quebec Open.
American Stephen Woodard is coming off his first Tour win in Edmonton, which moved him into fourth place on the money list. Erik Compton of Miami, Fla., leads with $85,875 and has a healthy $27,000 lead on Utahs Brad Sutterfield. The battle may turn out to be for second spot, with Sutterfield ($58,706) and David Hearn of Brantford, ON ($58,461) in a virtual dead heat coming down the stretch. The top two off the Order of Merit at seasons end will receive a bye into the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School later this fall.
Woodard became the seventh first-time winner in eleven Tour events this season. Only Compton, with a pair of victories, Chris Wisler and Rob Johnson had won prior to 2004.
American-born players continue to set the pace this season with ten victories. Hearn, who won in Victoria earlier this summer, is the only player to prevent what would be a clean U.S. sweep. Compton will not tee it up this week, which leaves the door open for his pursuers to close the gap heading into Michigan.
Both Compton and Hearn finished in the top 25 at last weekends Samsung Canadian PGA Championship and are eligible to play in this weeks Nationwide Tour stop in Kansas.
NHL Hall of Fame goaltender Grant Fuhr has been granted a sponsors exemption for the Montreal Open. Earlier this year, Fuhr earned his Canadian Tour card at Spring Q-School but was disqualified after the final round for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Several Quebec PGA Tour stars are also slated to play this week, including Remi Bouchard, Jean-Louis Lamarre, Carl Desjardins and Marc-Andre Girard.