Preview: Staal Foundation Open

Storylines – Thunder Bay

The Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada heads to Northern Ontario this week for the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel, one of the most celebrated events on the Tour schedule.

156 golfers look to become the latest winner of the Staal Foundation Open. The last three of which all finished in The Five at the end of the season including PGA TOUR member J.J. Spaun (2015) and Tour members Taylor Moore and Johnny Ruiz, who captured last year’s event by a shot over 2017 Player of the Year Kramer Hickok.

Key Info

Dates: July 12-15

Course: Whitewater Golf Club

Par/Yards: 36-36 (7,293 yards)

Field: 156

2017 Champion: Johnny Ruiz

Purse: $200,000/$36,000 winner’s prize

Format: 72-hole stroke play


Twitter/Instagram: @StaalOpen

Making a strong community impact

When it comes to making an impact off the course, the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel leads the way on the Mackenzie Tour. Since 2014, the event has been in partnership with the Staal Family Foundation, the genesis of the charitable efforts by the NHL’s Staal brothers – Eric, Jordan, Marc and Jared along with their families and parents, Henry and Linda –  and raised $845,000 for families battling cancer in Northwestern Ontario. Last year alone, the event raised $271,500 and helped the Mackenzie Tour surpass $1 million in charitable donations for the second consecutive year.

Can Zach Wright find the winner’s circle?

It’s been quite the start to the season for Zach Wright.

The Louisiana State University alum leads the Tour in birdies and is on top of the money list by more than $15,000. Wright’s worst finish so far this season is a tie for eighth. His other results include three ties for second and a tie for sixth and is the first player in Mackenzie Tour history to start a season with five top-10 finishes.

The record, by the way, is six in a row, which was done by J.J. Spaun in 2015. He captured the Staal Foundation Open that year en route to leading the money list.

With a scoring average of 66.75, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before Wright wins on Tour.

Hometown heroes?

Ontarians Michael Gligic and Taylor Pendrith both seem poised and ready to become the first Canadian winner on the Mackenzie Tour since Adam Cornelson in 2016. Pendrith is ranked second on Tour in total birdies with 90, trailing Zach Wright by 12.

Pendrith has bested his tournament total at each event he has played, starting the year with a 6-under finish at the Bayview Place DCBank Open presented by Times Colonist and trending upwards towards a 21-under finish last week at the Windsor Championship to place T4.

Meanwhile, Michael Gligic has once again found his form, finishing in second place last week at the Windsor Championship, posting two 64s during the week.

RBC Canadian Open exemption on tap

With Zach Wright essentially guaranteeing himself a spot in the RBC Canadian Open, the other two spots are wide open.

At the conclusion of the Osprey Valley Open the top three on the Order of Merit will receive an exemption into the PGA TOUR’s lone stop north of the U.S. border, and its acted as a springboard for past Players of the Year like Kramer Hickok (2017), J.J. Spaun (2015), and Joel Dahmen (2014) who all made the cut at the Canadian Open during the years they earned the exemption.

The top five on the money list looks as such heading into this week in Thunder Bay
1.Zach Wright: $65,300
2.George Cunningham: $50,400
3.Sam Fidone: $48,212
4.Mark Anguiano: $44,370
5.Jordan Niebrugge: $38,308
6.TT Crouch: $36,000

Niebrugge is not in the field this week which means Crouch has a chance to jump into the top five, and maybe even the top three with a good enough finish. Last week’s winner, Mark Anguiano, is just $4,000 away from the No. 3 spot held by Sam Fidone, who won the Bayview Place DCBank Open presented by Times Colonist.

The first step on the path to the PGA TOUR

The Mackenzie Tour represents the first step on the path to the PGA TOUR, with players competing to earn a promotion to the Tour and then on to the game’s biggest stage. Heading into its sixth season, the Mackenzie Tour counts 14 players on the PGA TOUR and an additional 72 with Tour status among its alumni, featuring TOUR winners Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor, Tony Finau and most recently Aaron Wise.

Below is a breakdown of the performance benefits players will compete for this season:

Exempt for 2019 Tour

2nd through 5th
Conditional status on 2019 Tour, exempt to Final Stage of Tour Q-School

6th through 10th
Exempt to Final Stage of Tour Q-School

11th through 20th
Exempt to Second Stage of Tour Q-School

Sponsor Exemptions

Barry Caland

Walter Keating Jr.

Jeremy Kirk

Evan Degrazia

Joey Savoie

Matt Simmons

Billy Walthouse

Josh Whalen

Monday Qualifiers

Chris Baker

Steven Burak

Thomas Campbell

Alex Chiarella

Theodre Coroneo

Kyle Driscoll

Parker Dudley

Brett Kennedy

Tanner Kesterson

Jesse Smith

Miscellaneous Notes
•Between players who have played more than two tournaments, last week’s winner Mark Anguiano trails only Zach Wright in terms of scoring average. That number sits at 67.14 through 14 rounds for the 25-year-old.
•While the past two events on the Mackenzie Tour schedule have seen record breaking scores, Whitewater Golf Club presents a challenge for the player’s. Last year, Johnny Ruiz won the event with a score of 13-under.
•There are 21 Canadians in the field this week.

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About jeffreyreed

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