When opening round action gets underway Thursday, 156 golfers will compete for the $150,000 purse at Pine Ridge GC, a 6522-yard, par-71 gem located on the outskirts of Winnipeg.
The MTS Classic, which wraps up the western Canadian leg of the Tour schedule, is the ninth official event of the season.
Canadians are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time in three seasons. Prince Edward Islands Craig Taylor won in Victoria two weeks ago before Matt McQuillan of Kingston, Ont. had a six-shot triumph at the TELUS Edmonton Open this past weekend.
Players will once again get an up close and personal look at Pine Ridges famous ninth, widely regarded as the most intimidating hole they will see this year. The 230-yard, par-3 layout has players hitting uphill to a domed green. Since the course was opened in 1912, number nine has yielded only 13 holes-in-one, three of which have come in the past two years.
Seven of the eight tournament winners this season will tee it up at Pine Ridge. Only Omar Uresti, a regular on the PGA Tour, will not be in Winnipeg.
Jaime Gomez of McAllen, Tex. leads the Order of Merit with $55,920 in earnings with David Mathis second at $40,432. Stuart Anderson (third), Taylor (fifth), Derek Gillespie (seventh) and McQuillan (ninth) are the four Canadians inside the top nine heading into Thursdays opening round.
At seasons end, the top two players on the money list will be exempted into the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School, while the top six earn a berth into the Bell Canadian Open. Top players also receive spots in a pair of Canadian Nationwide Tour events, the CPGA Championship and Alberta Classic.
Winnipeg has turned out to be a lucky charm for the past five champions, each of whom has moved on to a major world Tour after winning in the Manitoba capital. Defending champion Erik Compton has essentially played his way on to the Nationwide Tour this year.