Augusta James, Jennifer Ha and Anne-Catherine Tanguay will comprise the women’s squad while Taylor Pendrith, Albin Choi and Corey Conners return to the men’s squad
OAKVILLE, Ont. – Golf Canada is pleased to announce the six athletes—three female and three male—who have been selected to the 2017 Team Canada Young Pro Squad.
Comprising the team for 2017 is Augusta James (Bath, Ont.), Jennifer Ha (Calgary), Anne-Catherine Tanguay (Quebec City), Albin Choi (Toronto), Taylor Pendrith (Richmond Hill, Ont.) and Corey Conners (Listowel, Ont.).
The focus of the Young Pro Squad—now in its fourth year—is to bridge the gap for top-performing amateurs transitioning into the professional ranks. Since the inception of the Young Pro Squad in 2014, current and former team members have accounted for 26 wins across various professional golf tours including LPGA Tour and PGA Tour wins by program graduates Brooke Henderson and Mackenzie Hughes respectively.
“These dedicated athletes are a strong reflection of Canada’s commitment producing winners at all levels of golf and we are proud to continue supporting these aspiring professionals,” said Golf Canada Chief Sport Officer and interim CEO Jeff Thompson. “The support we’ve received from our sponsors and partners has helped the Young Pro initiative achieve remarkable results in a relatively narrow time frame and we look forward to further strides in 2017.”
Heading up the female contingent is long-standing Team Canada member Augusta James, who enters her sixth year as part of Team Canada. The 23-year-old looks to continue her ascension through the professional ranks as she embarks on a third consecutive Symetra Tour campaign. The former Canadian Women’s Amateur champion finished just outside the top-10 on the money list for a second straight year to narrowly miss out on qualifying for full status the LPGA Tour. James enters 2017 with partial status on the LPGA Tour and full playing rights on the Symetra Tour where she won the 2015 Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial Classic.
“Team Canada has been a huge supporter of my career since the beginning and I’m thrilled to return to the squad,” said James, who currently ranks fifth among Canadians on the Women’s Rolex World Golf Rankings. “I’ve developed very close relationships with Tristan (Women’s Team Coach Tristan Mullally) and the support staff and I’m looking forward to more success in 2017.”
Joining James on the Women’s Young Pro Squad is Calgary’s Jennifer Ha, the lone Canadian to earn full LPGA Tour status via qualifying school. The 22-year-old recorded a T8 result at Daytona Beach to earn priority LPGA Tour status for the entirety of the 2017 season. She joins the LPGA Tour on the heels of a Symetra Tour season highlighted by T7 finish at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship. Ha is also no stranger to the Team Canada program; she was member of the Amateur Squad from 2014-15 and Development Squad in 2013.
“I’m grateful to officially have Golf Canada back in my corner once again,” said Ha, a graduate of Kent State. “I’m taking on some new challenges in 2017 and the support of the Young Pro program will be a huge boost in helping to achieve my goals.”
Rounding out the women’s team is Quebec City native Anne-Catherine Tanguay, also a graduate of Team Canada’s Amateur Squad program. Tanguay, 26, joins the team on the strength of a season that featured five top-20 finishes, good for No. 61 on the Volvik Race to the Card money list. The Oklahoma State alumna joins Ha as first-year members of the Young Pro Squad.
On the men’s side, all three members make their return to the Young Pro Squad in 2017.
Taylor Pendrith, 25, earned two top-25 finishes on the Web.com Tour in 2016 to finish at No. 107 on the money list. The Kent State alumnus is a season removed from finishing third on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit as one of five athletes to graduate onto the Web.com Tour. Pendrith will look to make strides on the Web.com circuit in 2017 where he holds conditional status.
“Having the Young Pro program so invested in my future success is very humbling,” said Pendrith. “I’m so happy to have all the guys back and am thankful for the continued coaching and advice from Derek (Men’s Team Coach Derek Ingram) and the sport science team.”
Albin Choi, a member of the Young Pro Squad since its inception, will return for a fourth year representing Team Canada in the professional ranks.
Choi recorded three top-10 finishes on the Web.com Tour in 2016 to finish the year at No.69 on the money list. Entering his eighth year with the Team Canada program, the 24-year-old former Canadian Men’s Amateur champion has full status on the Web.com Tour this season.
“I’m thrilled to have been involved with the Team Canada program for most of my career—it’s almost like a family now,” said Choi. “The Young Pro Squad has been such a huge help for my maturity as a professional athlete and I can’t wait to make great strides once again in 2017.”
Rounding out the male contingent is Listowel, Ont., native Corey Conners. In 2016, the 25-year-old recorded eight top-10’s on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica to finish inside the top-10 (No. 6) on the money list, granting him partial Web.com Tour status. Conners also added a runner-up finish at the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel, a Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada event.
“Knowing that I always have that strong support system in place for me when I need it is a very reassuring thought,” reflected Conners, who recently finished T5 at Web.com Tour’s Bahamas Great Exuma Classic event. “I’m extremely excited for this upcoming season and to reconnect with the Team Canada family for my seventh year.”
Men’s National Squad coach Derek Ingram and Women’s National Team coach Tristan Mullally—both PGA of Canada Ben Kern Coach of the Year recipients—will provide coaching to their respective Young Pro athletes. In addition to funding and coaching support, the athletes will have access to Team Canada’s sport science staff which includes Psychologist Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood and Physiotherapist & Strength Coach Greg Redman.
“I’m proud to see these young athletes further their progress through the professional ranks as they build upon their careers,” said Gary Bernard, Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of Canada. “The commitment Golf Canada has shown in collaborating with the PGA of Canada in our world class teaching and coaching certification programs is another example of the organization’s overall commitment to the game of golf in Canada.”
The program was developed in partnership with the PGA of Canada and is funded in large part by the Golf Canada Foundation with generous contributions from founding partners Canadian Pacific and RBC, as well as supporting partners Citi Canada, Bear Mountain Golf Club and the Golf Canada Foundation Women’s Fund.
“On the verge of our fourth year of support, driving funds for the Young Pro Squad program will continue to be very high on the Foundation’s priority list,” said Golf Canada Foundation CEO Martin Barnard. “We’re very proud of what the program has been able to accomplish thus far, and we anticipate future success in developing the next generation of professional Canadian golfers to inspire our youth.”
Throughout the season, Golf Canada will closely monitor the performance of elite Canadian amateurs transitioning to professional golf with the possibility of program expansion.
Click here to read Team Canada Young Pro Squad player bios.