Opening-round action gets underway Thursday at the 6,880-yard, par-72 El Cid G&CC in Mazatlan with competitors teeing it up for a purse of $125,000. Sundays winner will take home a check for $20,000.
This season marks the fourth consecutive year that the Canadian Tour has paid a visit to Mexico. Next week, the Michelin Morelia Classic will be staged at Tres Marias GC.
Two weeks after capturing his first Tour championship at the Foster Farms California Classic in Modesto, Calif., Stuart Anderson heads into Mexico atop the Canadian Tour money list with $19,432 and leads an impressive starting field into Mazatlan that features eleven of the top 13 earnings leaders this year. Anderson will be looking to become to first player to win back-to-back events since Stephen Woodard won the Telus Edmonton Open and Montreal Open to close out the 2004 season.
Rick Todd was the last Canadian to prevail in consecutive weeks, taking top honors at the Payless/Pepsi Open and Canadian Home Assurance Alberta Open in 1991. Todd, who was born in Toronto, is now the head coach at the University of Texas-El Paso, where his protgs have included former Canadian amateur stars Chris Baryla and Dan Swanson.
The starting field for the Corona Mazatlan Classic will be comprised of Canadian Tour players, Mexican touring professionals, four qualifiers from a qualifying round held last month as well as players participating on sponsors exemptions.
Three of the four tournament winners in 2005'Anderson, Scott Gibson and Jim Seki'will compete this week. Omar Uresti, a PGA Tour member who won the Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Challenge after being granted an exemption, is the only champion from this season missing from the starting field in Mazatlan.
Should a Canadian win this week, it will mark the first time in three seasons that players from north of the border have prevailed in consecutive events. Rob McMillan and Derek Gillespie, who will both peg it up in Mexico, swept the two-week run through Myrtle Beach, SC in the spring of 2002. Other Canadians to keep an eye on include Baryla, Swanson, Brad Fritsch, Craig Matthew, Lee Curry and Adam Short.
Competitors from Mexico searching for a victory on their home soil include Rafael Alarcon, Jorge Corral, Juan Pablo Ibarreche, Manuel Inman, Octavio Gonzalez and Oscar Serna. From the United States, Gibson, Stephen Gangluff, Robert Hamilton, Ryan Miller, Chris Wall, Jason Higton, John Mallinger, Michael Harris and Ben Pettitt are among those to watch.
This year marks the Canadian Tours first visit to both Mazatlan and Morelia. One year ago, Higton and Rob Johnson were the winners in the Tours Mexico swing through Ixtapa and Guadalajara.
Some of the biggest names in professional golf have plied their trade on the Canadian Tour including 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, Stuart Appleby, Chris DiMarco, Craig Parry, Steve Stricker and Scott McCarron. The top 25 Tour grads have won more than $150 million on golfs biggest stage.