The 72-hole tournament gets underway Tuesday at Belmont Golf Club in Langley, BC, with the Canadian Tour handing out exempt playing cards to the low seven finishers after Fridays final round. The next seven competitors, plus ties, will earn non-exempt status for the remainder of the 2005 season.
Twenty-three Canadians, including 18 who call British Columbia home, will be in the starting field while 20 U.S.-born players will come north in the hopes of earning Tour playing privileges. Australia, with six players, New Zealand (three), England (one) and Korea (one) will also be represented.
Canadian amateur star Mike Mezei of Lethbridge, Alta., coming off an appearance with the Canadian Four Nations Cup squad last month, will be looking to secure a berth on the Canadian Tour. Ryan Lidkea of Delta, BC, who is just 19 years of age, represented Canadas national junior team in 2004 and was the RCGA Junior Player of the Year in 2003 while Dan Roberts is a three-time Canadian Junior team member (2001-2003). Other players to keep an eye on include Aussies Anthony Brown and Luke Hickmott, Trevin Wiles, former Hawaii state amateur champion Randy Shibuya, Eddie Maunder and Nick Davey.
Hopefuls earning cards in Langley will not have to wait long to get their first taste of Canadian Tour action. The Times Colonist Open will be staged in Victoria next week.
At seasons end, the top two in Canadian Tour earnings receive an exemption into second stage of the PGA Tours three-tiered Qualifying School. Top players from the Order of Merit also gain berths into the Bell Canadian Open as well as a pair of Nationwide Tour events in Canada.
Other member benefits include official World Golf Ranking points to the top three finishers each week, exemptions into the Panama Open and Peru Open for the Tours top five players and, for the leading available player from the top ten on the money list, a berth in the final stage of Asian Tour Qualifying School.
Californian Jim Seki came out of the school in 2004 before winning his first Tour event earlier this season at the Northern California Classic.
Since 1999, several future Canadian Tour champions have been Spring Qualifying School graduates including Steve Scott, Alex Quiroz, Scott Hend, Steven Alker, Brian Payne, Aaron Barber, Mario Tiziani, Arron Oberholser and Matt Daniel.
Eight of the past 13 Canadian Tour earnings leaders have been graduates of the Spring Qualifying School.
The Tournament Players Association is the governing body of the Canadian Professional Golf Tour with tournament operations in Canada, the United States and Mexico. A not-for-profit Association with over 250 members, Canadian Tour alumni includes Mike Weir, Chris DiMarco, Todd Hamilton, Stuart Appleby, Kirk Triplett and Hank Kuehne. The top 25 Canadian Tour grads have combined to win more than $150 million US on the PGA Tour.
NOTES: James Lepp, who won the 2003 Greater Vancouver Classic as an amateur, became the first Canadian to win the NCAA national individual championship on the weekend...Tour player Jason Schultz prevailed in a four-man playoff Sunday at the Nationwide Tour's Chattanooga Classic. Schultz had a career-best T2nd at the 2000 Ontario Open Heritage Classic. In his lone Tour start this year, Schultz was 23rd at the Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Challenge.