The Royal Beach Victoria Open kicks off the 2022 Tour Season
When players tee it up on June 2nd at the Uplands Golf Club in Victoria, British Columbia, it will mark the first time that a regular event has been played since the tour wrapped up its 2019 season. It probably goes without saying, but the 2-year gap was brought about because of the pandemic. Formerly known as the Mackenzie Tour, the PGA Tour Canada is one of the developmental tours in which players can hone their skills in preparation for PGA Q-School and/or the Korn Ferry Tour – with the ultimate goal of playing on the PGA Tour itself.
Because of the travel restrictions that were enacted as a health measure, an ad hoc, abbreviated schedule of events were assembled for 2020 and 2021, allowing players in Canada to participate against some good competition. The resumption of the full PGA Tour Canada season comes as welcome news to players and tour officials alike. Scott Pritchard, Executive Director of the PGA Tour Canada, expressed enthusiasm for the season with its sponsors and an 11-Event season that kicks off in Victoria.
“We haven’t been able to play an official season in Canada since 2019, so coming back as PGA Tour Canada, with Fortinet on board as our cup sponsor of the season long points race is super exciting. Now that we’re able to resume, welcome back the top up and coming players in the world of professional golf is all good news.”
Of course, the news is equally welcome if not more so for the players. Chris Crisologo is a native of Richmond, British Columbia and is in his first full season on the tour, despite having been a member since 2021.
The 26 year old Canadian is looking forward to the resumption of the PGA Tour Canada, having spent the last couple of pandemic-effected seasons bouncing around the United States and Canada trying to pick up events to stay sharp competitively.
“Playing in Canada is great news, and for me, playing on the Forme series last year with a lot of uncertainty, travel and whatnot, made things a little more difficult. So being in your home country is the excitement factor of being able to play here in Canada.”
The increase in prize money and the new season long points bonus prize via the Fortinet Cup are some of the highlights of the upcoming season as the Tour’s Executive Director Scott Pritchard explained. “They (the players) have a lot to play for in terms of the financial bonus at the end of the season. Then we’ve got some increases as well across the tour going from $200,000 to $225,000 (in prize fund). So, you know these are all good news stories.”
For players like Crisologo, the increased prize fund is a welcome development as it helps to defray the costs of competing on tour, particularly within the realm of travel costs. But, for Crisologo, the primary focus remains on qualification for the Korn Ferry Tour and eventual qualification for the PGA Tour.
“It’s nice to have something, it’s nice to have the players rewarded for good play. Travel is obviously not cheap regardless of where you’re going. But the incentives are there. For me, the most important incentives are to work your way towards the Korn Ferry card. If you can do that the rest of it will kind of fall or come to fruition.”
Victoria Kicks off the Tour
Named after Queen Victoria, the long reigning monarch, the city has embraced its British heritage with several of the city's prominent buildings such as the Parliament building and the Empress Hotel exhibiting the architectural style of the period. But that is only part of the tale, as the city is also renown for its spectacular coastal geography, the glorious Butchart Gardens, and Golf among other facets.
The city played host to Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf in 1968 as George Knudson, a Canadian on the PGA Tour, squared off against fellow pro, Al Geiberger, winner of the 1966 PGA Championship. With a long history of golf in Victoria, its many golf courses and scenic views, it’s only natural that it has become an important stop on the tour.
Being a British Columbia resident, Crisologo is looking forward to starting in Victoria as friends and family can travel the short distance from Vancouver to Victoria to cheer him on. “It’s not entirely a hometown event, but friends out there on the island (Vancouver Island) come out in support. It’s easy for them to come watch. The most important part is being able to have friends and family there.” In addition, the Victoria event was one of the last competitive events that Crisologo played and he will benefit from the knowledge and experience gained from having played the course before .
The opening event in Victoria will be played at the Uplands Golf Club which has hosted the event since 2013. The partnership between the Tour, the event organizers, and the Uplands Golf Club has been a fruitful one as the tour stop has become one of the longest running events. It’s also been popular among the players, having been voted as the favourite event stop in 2019. Tour officials are confident that the kickoff event will again be a highlight.
“To go back and have Victoria as our first event is going to be a highlight for the players in particular. It’s a great place to start the season, the golf course Uplands, their staff -- they’re doing an amazing job. Our tournament organizers in Victoria have a lot of experience and they really do a great job there. We’re all really excited to finally get going and get back out there,” said Pritchard.
One of the main objectives of the PGA Tour Canada is to make a positive impact on the communities in which they play. As part of this initiative, the Tour works with event organizers and a local charitable organization.In Victoria, the Salvation Army will be the local charity. Presented by the Times Colonist, the Royal Beach Victoria Open kicks off on Thursday June 2nd, running through to Sunday June 5th. A Monday qualifier is set to be hosted at the Gorge Vale Golf Club on May 30th to fill out the field for Thursday.
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