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PGA TOUR

Scottie Scheffler carded a bogey-free round of 68 on his way to a three-stroke win at the Hero World Challenge. Scheffler, playing for the first time since the Ryder Cup, picked up his third win of the year – his first win since March. Sepp Straka used three late birdies to finish second, one stroke better than Justin Thomas who posted his third straight top 5 finish. Tiger Woods, playing for the first time since ankle surgery in April, finished 18th in the 20 player field. It was only the third time in the last two years he has played all 72 holes in a tournament. 

NEXT EVENT: Grant Thornton Invitational (Dec 8) 

CANADIANS ENTERED: Brooke Henderson, Corey Conners, Nick Taylor

PGA TOUR/KORN FERRY TOUR

Four more Canadians advanced to the final stage of PGA Tour Q-School after the last two second-stage events were held last week. Sudarshan Yellamaraju, who competed on PGA Tour Canada this past season, finished tied for second at the qualifying event in Georgia,  four shots behind the winner while Thomas Giroux finished tied for fifth. Michael Gligic was among the notables who failed to advance, finishing tied for 24th – four strokes off the number required to advance. …Jared du Toit, who has made 63 career starts on PGA Tour Canada, finished tied for fifth at the qualifying event in California while Stuart Macdonald finished in a tie for ninth. The Final Stage will be played Dec. 14-17 at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley Course and Sawgrass Country Club. 

NEXT EVENT: PGA Tour Q-School presented by Korn Ferry-Final Stage (Dec 14)

LPGA/EPSON TOUR

Canadians Maddie Szeryk and Savannah Grewal are tied for 14th through three of six rounds of the LPGA Q-Series. The pair began the day tied for fourth before going on to shoot similar rounds of 1-under 70 on Sunday. Grewal elected to turn pro before the start of the first round in order to compete in the event. …Alena Sharp carded a third-round 2-under 70, slipping 15 places into a tie for 59th. The event was extended by one day and will finish on Wednesday after third-round play was postponed on Saturday due to unplayable conditions when more than three inches of rain fell in 36 hours. After Monday’s fourth round, the field will be cut to the top 65 players and ties. Players who finish in the top 45 and ties will earn LPGA Tour Membership for the 2024 season.

EUROPEAN TOUR

Dean Burmester made it back-to-back wins after a three-shot victory in the South African Open. Burmester, who plays on the LIV Golf League, rallied from a two stroke deficit to pick up his fourth career European Tour title. He also won last week’s Joburg Open. Italy’s Renato Paratore, Sweden’s Jesper Svensson and South African Ryan van Velzen all finished tied for second. 

POS SCORESTOTAL
T25Aaron Cockerill72-72-69-72-3

NEXT EVENT: Alfred Dunhill Championship (Dec 7)

CANADIANS ENTERED:  Aaron Cockerill 

Epson Tour Team Canada

First pro win has Canada’s Thibault looking toward LPGA Tour’s Stage II qualifying

Brigitte Thibault (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Right up until she was standing on the 18th green, making her final putt of the tournament, Brigitte Thibault didn’t know she was winning the Kathy Whitworth Championship.

The three-stroke win in Trophy Club, Texas, was the first victory of the 24-year-old Thibault’s professional career. Thibault said she had just kept her head down for the third and final round of the Women’s All Pro Tour season finale.

“I had no idea what the leaderboard was. I was just trying to score as best as I could,” said Thibault. “It’s almost like I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and just felt like I just needed to keep pushing.”

Thibault finished the tournament 71-68-68 for a total of 207. The native of Rosemere, Que., came out of the front nine of her third round at 5 under, having three birdies and an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole at the Trophy Club Country Club.

She bogeyed the par-3 No. 13 to arrive at her final round score of 4-under 68 and the win.

“I kept missing great opportunities on the back nine,” said Thibault. “I’d reach a lot of pins and then not make the putts.

“I felt like I was giving it away, but I ended up coming up on top. That was exciting.”

Having won a professional event, Thibault’s next goal is to move up to a higher tier of women’s golf. That means a good showing in Stage II of the LPGA Tour’s qualifying series at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla., Oct. 17 to Oct. 20.

Thibault said she’ll be working with coach Chuck Cook in Austin, Texas, to ready herself for Stage II.

“Just preparation for what the course is asking for,” said Thibault. “Really make sure I’m comfortable with the type of shots that I’m going to need to be hitting. Just a lot of short game, to be honest.”

Winning the Kathy Whitworth Championship has shown Thibault that she can do it.

“My work is paying off and just to see it come to fruition is really exciting,” said Thibault. “But also just confidence in terms of like I’m trying to stay ready for Q-School and just to have competitive reps and to be able to come out on top it’s very encouraging on my end.”

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Epson Tour

Canada’s Alena Sharp wins Champions Fore Change Invitational on the Epson Tour

NEW BERN, N.C. – Hamilton’s Alena Sharp has won her second Epson Tour title of her career.

Sharp emerged victorious in the Champions Fore Change Invitational, securing a two-stroke lead on Sunday. When asked about her performance Sharp expressed “Today, I played really steady, I was really happy with my play. It was a little windy today, but I controlled my trajectory really well and am just really proud of myself.” 

Gigi Stoll from the United States finished second overall, ending the tournament at 15-under par at Taberna Country Club.

Sharp previously won the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic in 2014 when it was still known as the Symetra Tour. A 19-year LPGA veteran, has experienced numerous close final rounds throughout her career, accumulating 15 top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour and an additional 11 on the Epson Tour.

Sharp also shared her mindset during the tournament, saying, “I stayed present all day, and if I had a negative thought, I backed off and started again. You need luck when you win as well, and I had some luck, so I am just really happy right now.” 

Selena Costabile, representing Thornhill, Ontario, tied for 14th place at 7-under par.

Sharp currently holds the eighth position on the money list of the second-tier tour.

Epson Tour

Hot start to golf season has Canada’s Megan Osland

Megan Osland (Bernard Brault/ Golf Canada)

It’s all been coming together for Megan Osland this winter.

Osland fired a 6-under 66 in the third round of Sunday’s Cactus Tour event for a one-shot victory. It’s the third win the native of Kelowna, B.C., has earned on the mini-tour this winter, and she feels she’s reaping the rewards of her hard work.

“I think it validates all the work that I’ve been doing in the off-season,” she said in an phone interview from Scottsdale, Ariz. “All my training is paying off.

“I’ve been working with my swing coach, my putting coach, and my mental coach. Everything’s coming together with all three of those.”

Osland said that she’s just made small adjustments in every facet of her game.

“Nothing major in any, in any category, just tweaking little things and just improving kind of the consistency of each area,” said Osland.

Those changes paid off in a three-stroke victory at the Sun City Country Club on Nov. 2, a seven-shot win at Riverview Golf Club on Jan. 15, and then Sunday’s win at Willow Creek Golf Club.

All three of those events were in Sun City, Ariz., but the Cactus Tour will shift to Beaumont, Calif., for its next two tournaments.

Osland plans to play in both as they could be a stepping stone from the developmental Cactus Tour to the second-tier Epson Tour. That circuit serves as a direct feeder to the LPGA Tour, the highest level of women’s professional golf.

“The carrot for that is the you get points for both of those tournaments and the overall point winner at the end of the two tournaments gets an exemption into an Epson Tour event,” said Osland, who played in five Epson Tour events in 2022 and was a regular on the second-tier circuit 2016-2019.

“Getting back on the Epson Tour full time is the biggest thing that I need to do. Then from there, obviously, the goal is to get an LPGA Tour card, whether that’s through Epson or Q-school at the end of the season.”

Osland’s hot start to the season puts her in a strong position to quickly meet her goals, as long as she continues to produce results.

“You’ve just got to play, well make some money, and then they’ve got a reshuffle in May,” said Osland, referring to the LPGA and Epson Tour’s annual recategorization. “Basically you can get reshuffled into having full status again, if you’ve made enough money.

“That’s the route that would be ideal if I can just get a couple starts early in the season.”

The Epson Tour kicks off its season next week with the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic at the Country Club of Winter Haven in Winter Haven, Fla. Sue Kim of Langley, B.C., won the event in 2015 and Samantha Richdale, also from Kelowna, took the title the next year for back-to-back Canadian wins.

Epson Tour

Selena Costabile learns from self evaluation and Alena Sharp for Epson Tour success

Selena Costabile
Selena Costabile (PGA of Canada)

Selena Costabile was making plans to play in the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic when she got a message from a familiar name: Alena Sharp.

The two Canadians had met at the LPGA Tour’s Q Series last winter. When Sharp saw that Costabile would be playing in the Epson Tour event in Mesa, Ariz., she decided to reach out to the younger golfer. Sharp, who lives with her wife Sarah Bowman in Arizona, suggested Costabile could stay with them for the duration of the tournament.

“I’m so grateful that I have that kind of friendship and I’m able to ask her questions, bounce ideas off of her,” said the 23-year-old Costabile on Wednesday. “Her and Sarah both are amazing people and it’s no surprise why she’s been able to be so successful.”

Sharp, who has been a fixture on the LPGA Tour since 2005, said that Canadians on the men’s and women’s circuits tend to stick together. She wanted to help Costabile and continue to foster that sense of community among Canada’s golfers.

“I think it’s important because Tour life can be pretty lonely,” said the 41-year-old Sharp, who is from Hamilton.

“I definitely think that Canadians are a closer knit group than players from other countries. I don’t know if it’s just because of Golf Canada with the team aspect but I really think it’s a cool thing.”

Alena Sharp

“I mean, yeah, we’re competitive, but we want to see each other do well and it’s not so cutthroat.”

Costabile, from Thornhill, Ont., is in her second full year on the Epson Tour. She said that between the two seasons she did a self-evaluation of her game and recognized she needed to work on her mental performance and how to manage her time around events.

Spending time with Sharp and Bowman helped Costabile immensely with that education. In particular, Costabile admires Sharp’s perseverance.

“Golf can beat you up in so many different ways but as long as you have the drive and the passion for it and the will to just keep going and pick yourself up and keep trying, I think the sky’s the limit,” said Costabile. “You can you can do anything you set your mind to and that’s really been clear from what I’ve seen through Alena.”

Costabile’s off-season self-evaluation has seemingly paid off this year.

In 2021, she played in 15 Epson Tour events and made four cuts, but this season she’s made the cut in all three events she’s played in.

She tied for 56th at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic on March 4, tied for 35th at the Arizona Women’s Golf Classic on March 17, then tied for 20th at the Casino Del Sol Golf Classic on March 31. The Epson Tour is in the midst of a two-week break, but she plans to return for the Copper Rock Championship on April 21 in Hurricane, Utah.

“I think just the mindset of being a little bit more prepared once the tournament comes was huge for me,” said Costabile. “During the winter I placed more importance on being more calm out there and having a little bit more of a steady mind, It’s been paying off so far.”

Epson Tour Team Canada

The revival of Rebecca Lee-Bentham

Rebecca Lee Bentham
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 04: Rebecca Lee-Bentham of Canada plays her shot off the fourth tee during the second round of the 76th U.S. Women's Open Championship at The Olympic Club on June 04, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Rebecca Lee-Bentham made it a priority to recharge in the off season and now the long Canadian National Team member feels rejuvenated and is focused on having a successful season on the golf course.

“During the offseason I did a little bit of coaching at a new golf facility in Los Angeles called The City Golf. I went on a couple golf trips to play some of the courses on my bucket list – Pebble Beach, Spanish Bay, Spyglass, and Shadow Creek,” Lee-Bentham revealed, adding that she made it a priority to slow down and focus on her mental and physical health.

Born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area, Lee-Bentham was an amateur standout who first joined Golf Canada’s National Team Program in 2007.  The former Canadian Junior Girls champion and honour roll student would go on to earn a golf scholarship to the University of Texas.  

Shortly after winning the Canadian Women’s Amateur in July of 2011, she decided to forego her remaining years at the NCAA DI university to chase down her childhood dream of competing on the LPGA Tour.  And the Longhorn alum was able to realize that dream when she secured full playing status at the LPGA Q-School tournament later that year.

“She was a good classmate. I’m excited to see another Longhorn doing something big. I’m proud of her and I wish her a lot of success,” said NBA star Tristan Thompson at the time upon learning about his former classmate’s big achievement.

Lee-Bentham entered her rookie season on the LPGA Tour as a bright eyed 19-year-old in 2012 along with Maude-Aimée Leblanc.

In her sophomore season, she was the top earning Canadian on the LPGA Tour and was named by Canadian golf writers as the 2013 Female Professional Golfer of the Year.

However, nagging injuries and the constant grind would lead to inconsistent results over the next few years and Lee-Bentham decided to retire in the summer of 2016.

After stepping away from the competitive side of the game, Lee-Bentham stepped into the coaching side of the sport.

“Mentally speaking, when you do something over and over under a lot of pressure, it becomes stressful and the joy can be lost. Sometimes you just need a little break to realize the love you have for the game and you begin to appreciate the skill that you worked so hard to develop,” she said.

And in 2019, with a new found appreciation of the sport, the former LPGA pro decided to relocate to Irvine, California in order to make a return to competitive golf.

Derek Ingram – the former women’s national team head coach, and currently, the men’s national team head coach – believes Lee-Bentham has unfinished business on the golf course.

“Rebecca needed to step back and remember why she played the game and what it was all about. I personally feel she is a top 60 player in the world or better when she is engaged and practicing the right way,” he said upon learning about her return to competitive golf back in 2019.

Besides Ingram and Thompson, there are many supporters in her corner that believe Lee-Bentham still has what it takes to play the game at the highest level.

Recently, she was awarded the 2021 GJAC Women’s Player Bursary to support her in quest. 

“I really appreciate the extra support from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada and Mackenzie Investments. I’m grateful to receive the bursary that will help cover a bit of the expenses this upcoming season,” she said.

Lee-Bentham will also be receiving support from Golf Canada as it was recently announced that she will be a rejoining the Young Pro Squad for 2022. The long time National Team member is grateful for all the support she has received from Golf Canada throughout her career.

“Golf Canada gives their players the support that is needed to get onto the Tour. Along with financial support, they have a team of coaches and trainers to guide players from the junior level to life as a professional golfer,” Lee-Bentham noted

“There are a lot of costs associated to making it onto the tour and even more once you get on tour such as paying your way into Q-School, having a training facility and golf course to practice at, equipment, coaching, travel costs, caddie fees, tournament entry fees, and the list goes on,” she continued.

“I believe having funding and support is crucial to any player’s success on tour. Golf is an individual sport but it requires a team, alongside the player, to make it to the top.”

Lee-Bentham will be competing on the Epson Tour this year with the goal of taking her talents back onto the LPGA Tour.

“Ironically, before I started playing golf, my dad worked for Epson as an electronic engineer and retired early to support my golf career. What Epson is doing for the women’s tour is amazing and a huge step in the direction we all want to see,” she pointed out.

Having first been introduced to the sport at the age of 12 by her dad, Ken Lee-Bentham, the former Canadian Women’s Amateur Champion and former LPGA Tour pro is celebrating a special milestone this month as she is turning 30 years old.

“As the years go by, there are more and more things to look back on and be grateful for. I’m constantly in awe when I think about where this game has taken me and all the opportunities I’ve been blessed with.  At the same time there is more to life than just golf, so I am reminded to find balance and prioritize the things that matter to me the most,” said Lee-Bentham.

As the Young Pro Squad member prepares to start her season, she feels rejuvenated and is mentally prepared to celebrate a successful year ahead.

“My goal this season is to finish Top 10 on the money list on the Epson Tour and have a tournament win. I would also love to qualify for the US Women’s Open again and earn a spot into another LPGA event,” she said.”I’m approaching this year with the mindset that I’m just going to learn, improve each week and enjoy having the opportunity to compete and do what I love.”

Epson Tour

LPGA has new sponsor, big commitment for developmental tour

Epson Tour
(From left) Epson VP Kevin Garton and VP Kendra Jones; LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan; Epson President and CEO Keith Kratzberg; Epson VP Dan Murphy

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) – The LPGA Tour has a new title sponsor for its developmental tour that will boost prize money, award $10,000 to each of the leading 10 players that graduate to the LPGA Tour and seek to eventually cut entry fees in half.

Epson America has a five-year deal with the LPGA Tour that runs through 2026.

The newly named Epson Tour, which is set to begin the first week of March in Florida, will announce its schedule in a few weeks.

“This ground-breaking partnership will provide expanded opportunities for the future stars of the game from around the globe to test their talent and take one step closer to realizing their dreams,” LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said.

The developmental tour enters its 42nd year of structured competition, and it has produced such future stars as Karrie Webb, Lorena Ochoa, Inbee Park and Nelly Korda. Nine players who started on the tour accounted for 12 victories last season on the LPGA Tour.

The LPGA’s deal with Symetra expired last year.

Japan-based Seiko Epson Corp., a global technology company, is the parent company of Epson America, based in California.

More than being the title sponsor of the main circuit that leads to the LPGA Tour, it will start the Epson Tour Ambassador Program, giving $10,000 to the 10 leading players to provide a financial boost as they start on the LPGA Tour.

The standard tournament prize money will be $200,000, another increase.

The commitment is believed to be roughly three times greater than the previous season.

The deal also includes Epson contributing money to lower entry fees by 10% each tournament for every player, which would amount to as much as a $1,000 savings for each player.

And through the Epson Tour DEI Partnership, the company and the LPGA are challenging at least four companies to join them by working to cut entry fees from $500 to $250. Participating companies would receive Pro-Am spots and advertising at every Epson Tour event.

“We don’t only want to put our name on the Epson Tour. We want to find ways to invest in players chasing their dream of the LPGA Tour and support them once that dream becomes a reality,” said Kendra Jones, Epson America’s vice president of legal affairs and general counsel.

Epson Tour LPGA Tour

Maddie Szeryk secures LPGA Tour status through Qualifying Series

Fred Weston/ LPGA

After eight gruelling rounds, the 2021 LPGA Tour Qualifying Series has come to an end. In all, 46 players, including Canadian Maddie Szeryk, finished at -4 or better to secure Tour status for 2022.

Szeryk shot a personal-best 4-under 68 in the final round of the Q-Series with crucial birdies on her final two holes to finish T35. The 25-year old – who has played on the Symetra Tour since 2019 – competed in 18 events during the 2021 season with a best finish of T22 at the Copper Rock Championship in April.

Szeryk will join fellow Canadians Brooke Henderson and Maude–Aimée Leblanc on the LPGA Tour circuit next season, which will include the 2022 CP Women’s Open, August 22-28 at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.

Two other Canadians who advanced to the final four Q-Series rounds, missed out on the top-45 and ties cut line. Selena Costabile of Thornhill, Ont. finished T68, and Hamilton native Alena Sharp finished T69. Both women will receive Symetra Tour playing status for the 2022 season.

Over the course of the two-week tournament, 110 LPGA Tour hopefuls competed in two 72-hole stroke play events with the low 70 players and ties cut after week one. Scores then carried over into week two held at Highland Oaks Golf Course in Dothan, Ala. from Dec. 9-12.

After the conclusion of all eight rounds of the Q-Series, players who finished inside the top 45 and ties received LPGA Tour membership and playing status for the 2022 season. Players finishing outside the top-20 and ties also received 2022 Symetra Tour playing status.

For complete results and full leaderboard click here.

Epson Tour LPGA Tour Team Canada

Brittany Marchand announces retirement

Brittany Marchand (Donald Miralle/ Getty Images)

Brittany Marchand announced today that she will be stepping away from professional golf. The 29 year-old announced the decision to retire following the conclusion of the 2021 Symetra Tour season which wrapped up on Oct. 10.

“The last 6 years have been the most amazing experience,” said Marchand via her social media channels. “The ups, the downs, the grind, the adventures, the people, the pure joy and the sadness… I wouldn’t trade any of it! I am leaving professional golf today a stronger person than when I started and I’m leaving with my head high. I’m proud of what I have accomplished and I feel joy thinking about the new adventures that life has in store for me.”

In 2021, Marchand competed in 18 Symetra Tour events with a season-best finish of T3 at the Carolina Golf Classic in Greensboro, N.C. During her career on the Symetra Tour, the Orangeville, Ont. native would earn nine top 10 finishes including a victory at the 2017 PHC Classic.

In 2017 she finished T32 at the 2017 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 17 status for the 2018 season. She spent two years on the LPGA Tour where she competed at the CP Women’s Open three times (2017, 2018, 2019) with her best finish being T30 in 2017.

As a member of Team Canada for eight years total, Marchand joined the Development Squad in 2011, competed as a member of the Amateur Squad from 2015 – 2017, and joined the Young Pro Squad from 2018 – 2021.

She’s amassed more than $148K in career earnings since 2016 and currently ranks No. 772 on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

Marchand played collegiate golf at North Carolina State University where she was a three-time All-ACC selection, WGCA All-American in 2014, and continues to own the school record for most career wins with three. While competing in NCAA golf, she also completed a degree in chemical engineering to continue pursuing her passions for both golf and science.  

Marchand credits her grandfather in sparking her interest in the game when he joined her to Brampton Golf and Country Club at age seven and taught her how to play. During her career she’s been able to pay it forward by acting as an ambassador for multiple youth-in-sport programs, including Golf Canada’s Golf in Schools program.

Golf Canada wishes Brittany all the best in her future endeavors.

Click here for more information on Brittany Marchand’s career highlights.

Epson Tour LPGA Tour

Maude-Aimee Leblanc clinches top 10 spot for her 2022 LGPA Tour card

Greensborough, N.C. – Quebec native Maude Aimee Leblanc received a pleasant surprise on Thursday morning – notice that she had clinched a top 10 spot on this year’s Symetra Tour standings, gaining playing privileges for the 2022 LGPA season. The news reached Leblanc at Forest Oaks Country Club where she is currently competing in the second annual Carolina Golf Classic.

“I am glad they told me, it took a big load off. That was my goal all year so to make it happen is really great,” said Leblanc. “[Golf] is a love-hate relationship. It’s tough and really hard to describe.”  

Just three seasons ago Leblanc announced her decision to step away from golf professionally. It was the unprecedented year of 2020 that brought her back to the links and the Symetra Tour with a fresh perspective and a reignited passion for the sport.

“I just felt like I had more to accomplish golf wise. I feel like there are still things that I want to achieve and goals for myself that I set way back then and that are still in the back of my mind. It was hard to come to stop completely,” said Leblanc. “I want to thank my wife. She has been a big part of supporting me getting back into golf. And I started working with a new coach about a year and a half ago and he has helped my putting a lot which has made a huge difference in my game.”  

With 18 tournaments already in the books on the Symetra Tour, the top 10 underwent some shifting after the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout which wrapped up Sept. 26. Leblanc is the fifth golfer to secure her spot, with five additional cards remaining to be claimed.

After the conclusion of round 1, Leblanc sits T4 at a score of six under par. Round 2 of the 72-hole stroke play tournament continues today.

For updated scores from the Carolina Golf Classic, click here.