DP World Tour Team Canada

Sebastian Szirmak’s Mexican Tour win prepares him for European Challenge Tour

Sebastian Szirmak

Sebastian Szirmak won’t be coming home to Toronto this summer for the best possible reason — he’ll be playing golf in Europe.

Szirmak won the Wipa’s Open in a three-way playoff on Sunday for his first victory on the Gira de Golf Professional Mexicana. That victory helps set him up on the Challenge Tour, the second-tier circuit for the European-based DP World Tour, by earning him valuable points on the Official World Golf Ranking and gaining experience at the professional level.

“This is likely going to be the first summer I don’t come back to play in Canada,” said Szirmak between practice rounds in Mexico. “It’s kind of exciting and kind of sad. 

“But to me, it really feels like I’m progressing in my career to not be playing mini tour stuff during the summer and be on a bigger tour with world rankings.”

Szirmak was tied with Venezuela’s Manuel Torres and Mexico’s Jose de Jesus Rodriguez at 15-under par after Sunday’s third round. He was the only one who parred the playoff on the 18th hole at the Los Tabachines Golf Club in Cuernavaca, Mexico to earn 300,000 Mexican pesos, the equivalent of about $24,000.

The 33-year-old said that he felt more confident heading into the playoff.

“My mentality kind of relaxes in the playoffs, because you don’t have to think about the results as much, it’s gonna be something good,” said Szirmak. “You just put your head down and put all your heart and soul into getting that best result possible.

“It’s sometimes easier in a head-to-head scenario, when you just have to beat the other guy, just hit a better shot than him all the way into the hole and hope that you’re one stroke lower than him at the end.”

Szirmak moved to Mexico to lower the financial overhead of playing that tour and immerse himself in the country’s culture.

“As a smaller tour, it’s really great for world ranking,” said Szirmak, who is already working with brands like Foresight Sports Canada, Primo Golf Apparel, G/FORE, and TaylorMade. “It’s really great for practising travelling and for me, when I had my PGA Tour Latinoamerica status, I really wanted to feel more comfortable in the Latin American culture so moving down to Mexico made sense.”

Playing on the Mexican Tour has also given Szirmak a second chance at reaching the DP World Tour. He missed out on earning a card on the top circuit in Europe by just one stroke at its Q School this past November.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking and it definitely took a while to get over since I was inside the number going through the back nine and it just slipped away for me,” said Szirmak, who missed the fourth-round cut at the DP World Tour’s final stage of qualifying on Nov. 13. “Unfortunately, missing that I did get Challenge Tour status, but I don’t get starts until their schedule returns to Europe, which is at the end of May. 

“So really, I’m using these Mexican Tour events to just see where my game is at, (…) really just trying to gear my game up for the Challenge Tour season for me to start and hopefully hit the ground running and take really good advantage of the starts I get.”

The Challenge Tour begins its European swing on May 9 with the Challenge de Espana at Real Club Sevilla Golf in Seville, Spain.

PGA TOUR — Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., is the highest-ranked of seven Canadians entering the field at The Players Championship this week. He’s No. 11 on the FedEx Cup standings heading into play at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. He’ll be joined by Adam Hadwin (25th) of Abbotsford, Corey Conners (52nd) of Listowel, Ont., Adam Svensson (62nd) of Surrey, B.C., Ben Silverman (79th) of Thornhill, Ont., Mackenzie Hughes (84th) of Dundas, Ont., and Taylor Pendrith (90th) of Richmond Hill, Ont.

EPSON TOUR — Selena Costabile of Thornhill, Ont., Kate Johnston of Ayr, Ont., and Brigitte Thibault of Rosemere, Que., are all in the field at this week’s IOA Golf Classic presented by LPT Realty at Alaqua Country Club in Longwood, Fla.