Team Canada golden in Japan at Toyota Junior Golf World Cup
Left to right: Eric Zhao, Cooper Humphreys, Ethan Wilson and Félix Bouchard hoist the 2022 Toyota Junior Golf World Cup at Hakusan Village Golf Club in Tsu, Japan on June 24, 2022.
TSU, Japan – Canada Day is still a week away but there was reason to celebrate early for Team Canada’s National Junior Squad in Japan on Friday.
The Canadian Junior Boys team – made up of Félix Bouchard (Otterburn Park, Que.), Ethan Wilson (St. Albert, Alta.), Cooper Humphreys (Vernon, B.C.) and Eric Zhao (North York, Ont.) – captured the 2022 Toyota Junior Golf World Cup with a two-stroke victory over Japan in the seven-team competition.
Canada’s team victory at the World Cup is its first in the 28-year history of the event. Rob McMillan (1994) and Corey Conners (2009) have previously been crowned individual champions of the tournament representing the Maple Leaf.
Consistency was the key to success for the Boys team, who each recorded top-10 results or better in the individual competition. Bouchard and Humphreys spearheaded the Canadians, the pair finishing at eight-under par for T5, while Wilson closed the tournament at seven-under par for T8 and Zhao wrapped up his World Cup in T10 at six-under par.
None of the members of four-man squad carded a score higher than 73 over the course of the three-day event at the Hakusan Village Golf Club in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Bouchard earned the low score of the week amongst the Canucks, firing a six-under par 66 in the second round of the international competition.
Team Canada’s Junior Girls – made up of Nicole Gal (Oakville, Ont.), Michelle Liu (Vancouver, B.C.), and Yeji Kwon (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) – secured a well-deserved top-3 finish of their own. Gal’s T4 result in the individual competition charged the Canadians to a podium finish, totalling an eight-under par score as a team, just one stroke shy of the Japanese in second place.
Kwon’s opening round three-under par 69 was matched by her teammate Gal the following day, and stood as the low scores of the week for the Canadian girls.
Canada’s third place finish matches their best result (T3 in 2018) since the Girls division was added to the global golf tournament in 2014.
Spain ran away with the Junior Girls division, winning by seven strokes over Japan. The Spaniards were lead by Andrea Revuelta, Cayetana Goicoechea and Fernández Garcia-Poggio, who finished tied atop the individual female leaderboard at seven-under par.
Conners, Adam Hadwin, Adam Svensson and Nick Taylor are other names to have previously represented the red and white at the marquee international event. Master’s champions Scottie Scheffler (USA) and Hideki Matsuyama (Japan), along with John Rahm (Spain) and Cam Smith (Australia), have also sported their countries colours at the World Cup since it began 1992.
2022 marked the 28th playing of the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup and the first since 2019. The event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada’s Myles Creighton hopes to end Latinoamerica season on top
Myles Creighton tees off in the opening round of the 2022 RBC Canadian Open on June 6 at St. Georges Golf & Country Club. (Bernard Brault/Golf Canada)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Myles Creighton has always wanted to wear the Maple Leaf on his golf gear. Now that he can as a member of Golf Canada’s young pro squad, he’s having a career season.
The product of Digby, N.S., was named to the national sports organization’s roster in mid-March and has proudly represented Canada on the PGA Tour _ Latinoamerica since. He’s the highest ranked Canadian heading into the third-tier tour’s championship tour this week and the highest ranked golfer from the Maritimes on any tour.
“I take huge pride in representing that part of the country and Canada in general,” said the 26-year-old Creighton. “I’ve always wanted to be on Team Canada’s growing up and I was just shy in junior golf and just left off the team in amateur golf.
Creighton is 32nd in the TotalPlay Cup rankings, dropping two spots after taking two weeks off Latinoamerica for the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto and a week of vacation. That ranking makes him the only Canadian in the field this week at the Bupa Tour Championship at PGA Riviera Maya in Tulum, Mexico.
“I love this golf course. I’ve been looking forward to playing it all year,” said Creighton, who noted that the fairway. “I’m just going to try and play my best but I feel like this is a great course for me.”
He’s had two top-10 finishes on tour this season, tying for ninth at the JHSF Aberto do Brasil on May 24 and then tying for third at the Jalisco Open on May 29. He also tied for 19th twice this season.
“I know that I can win on this tour,” said Creighton, who is targeting a card on the Korn Ferry Tour. “I would love to win this event it would do a lot for me because it’s an increased amount of points and 600 points. It could get me in the top 10.”
Creighton’s season won’t end at the Bupa Tour Championship, as he intends to return to the Maritimes and compete in the Prince Edward Island Open on the PGA Tour Canada. That event begins on June 30 at Dundarave Golf Club in Cardigan, P.E.I.
“I was really looking forward to it because my family is going to come up and I was going to get the chance to see them,” said Creighton. “I was able to see them at the Canadian Open, which was great, but they’re still going to come out so it’ll be a great week.’
Canada’s Katie Cranston comes back, wins Women’s Porter Cup after playoff
[NANAIMO, BC - 15 May 2022]
Final round of the NextGen Pacific Championship at the Nanaimo Golf Club.
(Photo: Chuck Russell/Golf Canada)
LEWISTON — The finishing holes at Niagara Falls Country Club have traditionally stressed the cardiac function of amateur golfers in championship pursuit. That held true again Friday in a dramatic conclusion to the ninth Women’s Porter Cup.
On her fifth lap of the undulating, 165-yard 18th hole, Katie Cranston wondered what the monitor on her wrist was reading about the physical and mental strain incurred by a late-round rally and an extended sudden-death playoff.
Cranston steadied her nerves and outlasted Ontarian neighbor Brooke Rivers on the fourth playoff hole to claim Porter Cup crystal from her first amateur tournament victory.
“I’m so happy,” Cranston said after walking off the green to hugs from teammates on Canada’s National Junior Squad wearing matching pink polo shirts. “I’ve won junior events, but amateurs is something different. It’s a whole new level.”
Cranston, an 18-year-old from Oakville, Ontario who will play college golf for Auburn University, emerged from five strokes back with five holes remaining in medal play to match Rivers at 5-under par 211 through 54 holes and force a playoff.
“I honestly thought it was over,” said Cranston, who pulled within a stroke of Rivers after opening the back nine with a pair of birdies, only to give four back with a bogey on No. 11 and double-bogey on 12. “I just thought, secure your second place and be happy with that.”
Officials ceased speculating on who might win and started questioning whether Rivers, a 17-year-old from Brampton, Ontario who competes for Canada’s National Amateur Squad and has committed to Wake Forest, would break the tournament record (11-under) held by Brooke Henderson (2014) and Ana Paula Valdes (2018). Having entered the final round with a one stroke lead at 5-under par, Rivers went 10-under after making birdie on her opening three holes and five of the first 12 on Friday.
That was before Rivers’ approach shot on the 360-yard 14th hole ricocheted off a greenside hill and rolled a foot beyond the out-of-bounds stakes. Rivers, who carded just three bogeys through the first 49 holes and none yet in the final round, took a triple on the par-4, trimming her lead to two strokes.
Rivers maintained that advantage as she and Cranston both made double-bogey on the 16th hole and birdied the 17th. Shooting from the elevated tee box on the 18th, Cranston landed within 10 feet of the pin before sinking her birdie putt, while Rivers plopped in the sand trap beneath the green on her way to another bogey.
“We both had a couple hiccups,” Cranston said. “It was honestly just a big mess. But we kind of equaled each other out.”
The tension increased through repeated battles on No. 18. They went shot for shot three times through, following one another into bunkers off the tee and downhill putts skirting past the cup for par-bogey-bogey.
Both took an extra club for the fourth playoff tee shot into a stiffening wind. Cranston blasted out of the sand to the middle of the green and two-putt from 15 feet for bogey. Rivers putted once from the fairway in front of the green and three more times from closer range to give Cranston the victory.
“Reading the greens were quite difficult, and putting was definitely my weak point,” Rivers said. “The entire week, I played well, was swinging it well, was hitting it how I wanted to. My short game was where I needed it to be. Putting was what let me down.”
Cranston admitted her focus waned as fatigue accumulated on the playoff holes.
“By the end, I wasn’t as into the shot as I could’ve been,” she said.
Cranston’s cheerful demeanor, however, held up as the pressure mounted.
“I was happy either way,” Cranston said. “Obviously, I’d be a little bummed if I didn’t win. But I was happy with myself if I would’ve pretty much T-1. I was kind of loose, and if she made a good putt, she deserved to win.”
Rivers concluded Cranston “was solid, kept her game together, stuck to what she was supposed to do, and kept hitting good shots.”
Corey Conners excited for return of the RBC Canadian Open
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA - APRIL 17: Corey Conners of Canada walks across the first green during the final round of the RBC Heritage at Harbor Town Golf Links on April 17, 2022 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
While Corey Conners has enjoyed notable success on the PGA TOUR over the past two seasons, perhaps his biggest regret during that time was not being able to share that success with Canadian fans on Canadian soil. But with the RBC Canadian Open returning this year, the wait is over for the Listowel, Ont., native as he will be teeing off against the best in the world next week in Toronto.
The RBC Canadian Open was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will make its long-awaited return this year at the St. George’s Golf and Country Club, with nearby Islington Golf Club as the official practice facility.
“To have the crowd made up of pretty much all Canadians is going to be amazing,” added the long-time Canadian National Team member. “I know the fans will be really behind all the Canadian players, and that’s something that I’m super excited about and I’ve certainly missed the last couple of years.”
According to tournament director Bryan Crawford, this year’s RBC Canadian Open will be a treat for players and fans alike. Crawford is quick to point out that the goal is to offer a best-in-class experience for everyone in attendance.
“That’s what we are aiming for, a best-in-class event for players, caddies, volunteers, partners and our fans,” he said. “It starts with a great golf course, and you can’t ask for a better one than St. George’s—it’s one of the premier facilities in Canada.”
2019 champion Rory McIlroy is back this year to defend his crown and reigning Masters champ and current world no. 1 Scottie Scheffler, and five-time PGA TOUR winner and world no. 3, Cam Smith. Other notable names are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Besides the star-studded line up on the golf course, this year’s tournament will feature two chart-topping musical acts on stage as Flo Rida and three-time Grammy award winner Maroon 5 are schedule to entertain fans on June 10 and June 11 respectively as part of the RBCxMusic Concert Series taking place at nearby Richview Collegiate.
“The RBCxMusic Concert Series was an overwhelming success in 2019 and will once again attract new fans to experience the energy and excitement of the RBC Canadian Open,” noted Golf Canada Chief Commercial Officer, John Sibley.
At the recent PGA Championship, Conners reiterated his feelings about returning to Canada in early June.
“Apart from the major championships, I don’t know if I’ve been as excited for a golf event or a PGA TOUR event in my life. I’m really excited to get back to Canada. It’s been unfortunate that we haven’t been able to get there the last couple of years,” noted the top-ranked Canadian.
“I know the fans will be out in full force and supporting the Canadians, and hopefully we can put on a good show.”
Given his stellar play, Canadian golf fans are also understandably excited to see their home-grown talent compete against the best in the world.
Conners has recorded impressive results on the PGA TOUR recently including a tie for sixth place at the Masters in early April—the third year in a row that the talented young Canadian has finished in the top-10 at Augusta National. He also finished in a tie for 15th place last summer at The Open Championship played at the Royal St. George’s Golf Course.
“Personally, I feel now like my game is a lot more refined, so I’m going to be teeing it up (in Canada) with really high expectations for myself,” Conners pointed out.
It is interesting to note that a Canadian has not won the RBC Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher did it back in 1954.
Besides Conners, there will be a talented group of Canadians eager to end that drought this year at the 111th playing of Canada’s National Men’s Open Championship. Among those already confirmed are Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor, Taylor Pendrith, Adam Svensson, Michael Gligic, Roger Sloan, Aaron Cockerill, and Brendan Leonard. The final field can be found here.
Stollery family makes major gift of $2M in support of Team Canada women’s coaching position
Cailey Stollery (Jeff Vogan/ Golf Canada)
Golf Canada in partnership with the Golf Canada Foundation and the Canadian Olympic Foundation have announced a major gift from the Stollery Family that will see the official title of the women’s national team head coach renamed as the Team Canada Stollery Family Women’s Head Coach and Stollery Family Olympic Women’s Head Coach.
The Stollery Family, long-time supporters of Canadian golf and especially the women’s game including junior girls and high-performance activities, have donated a total $2M to the Golf Canada Foundation and the Canadian Olympic Foundation in support of the Team Canada program to help fund the Women’s Head Coach position over a 30-year term.
“We are so honoured that the Stollerys, a family with such a long history of philanthropy and promoting sport, has chosen to make this meaningful gift in support of women’s golf,” said Golf Canada President Liz Hoffman, who also sits as a Board Member on the Golf Canada Foundation. “We are excited for what this means for the growth of the women’s game, and the powerful statement it makes in support of coaching across Canada.”
Salimah Mussani, recently promoted by Golf Canada to lead the women’s team will be the inaugural Team Canada Stollery Family Women’s Head Coach.
Seven sisters –Cailey, Victoria, Gillian, Lindsay, Claire, Sarah, and Hannah – have proudly carried on the family legacy of support for the game initiated by their late father Gordon Stollery. Among other successful business ventures, the Stollery Family are the owners and operators of Goodwood Golf Club in Goodwood, Ont. as well as Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ont. which has played host to numerous major golf championships including the CP Women’s Open (2001), the Telus Skins Game (2001), the RBC Canadian Open (2002, 2007) and the golf competition of the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Angus Glen is also proud host of the annual World Junior Girls Golf Championship, presented by Sargeant Farms, set to return October 12-15, 2022. The Stollery Family have also been long-time supporters of the Golf Canada Foundation including events such as the popular Wine, Women’ & Shoes Fundraiser. The generosity of the Stollery Family has supported numerous charitable legacies including a $5M donation to Markham Stouffville Hospital which named the Stollery Family Centre for Childbirth and Children in their honour.
“Our family recognizes and values the critical role that women’s golf and high-performance coaching can have on the overall growth of a sport that has meant so such much to us all,” said Cailey Stollery who sits on the Board Directors of both the Golf Canada Foundation as well as the Canadian Olympic Foundation.
The Stollery Family’s major gift to fund the Women’s Head Coach position is the first of its kind for a Canadian National Sport Federation head coaching position.
The Team Canada Stollery Family Women’s Head Coach will also be a first for a Canadian Olympic Team coach as the Team Canada Stollery Family Women’s Head Coach will also guide Women’s Golf Team that is named by the Canadian Olympic Committee to represent Team Canada at future Olympic Games.
“This gift from the Stollery Family is remarkable, and a clear indication of the entire family’s shared belief in the transformational power of sport,” says Jacqueline Ryan, Chief Brand and Commercial Officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee and CEO of the Canadian Olympic Foundation. “This contribution is truly inspiring and will help shape the exciting future of women’s golf in Canada for years to come.”
Canada’s Brigitte Thibault plans to turn pro this summer after exemplary NCAA career
Brigitte Thibault (Bernard Brault/ Golf Canada)
John Chidley Hill
Canada’s Brigitte Thibault is ready to take the next step in her career.
The product of Rosemere, Que., said on Wednesday that she plans to turn professional sometime this summer after a successful career as an elite amateur, competing in the NCAA and representing Canada internationally.
“Next will be half pro events this summer, half amateur events,” said Thibault after competing in her last tournament with the Texas Longhorns. “Just making sure I get in the best field I can to challenge myself as much as possible.
Thibault said that she intends to turn professional either before the LPGA’s Q School or the CP Women’s Open, both of which will be held in late August.
Stage I of the Q School will be held Aug. 18-21 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., the CP Women’s Open is at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club Aug. 22-28, and Stage II of the Q School will be held Oct. 18-21 at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla.
Thibault had an exemplary NCAA career, winning five titles while as an undergrad at Fresno State between 2018 and 2021. She won the 2019 Mountain West Conference Championship, the 2019 Ontario Women’s amateur Championship, the 2020 Women’s Western Amateur Championship, the 2020 Women’s Dixie Amateur and the 2021 Rebel Beach Intercollegiate. She also won bronze with Canada at the 2019 Pan American Games in the mixed team event.
She moved from Fresno State to the University of Texas at Austin for her fifth and final year of eligibility as a graduate student. Her best result as a Longhorn was tying for 14th at the Bruzzy. She also helped the Texas Women’s Golf squad to a one-over-par 289 on Monday to close out the season in 13th-place at the NCAA Championship.
“I think it hasn’t sunk in yet to be honest,” said Thibault of her collegiate career coming to an end. “I was just with my teammates today and reminiscing on all of the years.
“I’m at a loss for words, I’m just super grateful for all the years, all the learning experiences, and it’s just a lot of emotions altogether.”
Thibault said her next event will still be an amateur tournament, either the British Women’s Amateur Championship at Hunstanton Golf Club in Norfolk, England, on June 20-25 or the Porter Cup at the Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston, N.Y., on July 13-16.
LPGA TOUR _ Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., was paired with Jeongeun Lee6 at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play in Las Vegas. The event at Shadow Creek Golf Course will have three days of round-robin play and then the knockout round.
EPSON TOUR _ Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., and Selena Costabile of Thornhill, Ont., will tee off on Friday in the Inova Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship in Howey-In-The-Hills, Fla. Costabile is 66th on the Epson Tour’s money list and Szeryk is 148th.
CP WOMEN’S OPEN _ The Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, host of this summer’s CP Women’s Open, posted on Sunday that its course was severely damaged by a severe storm that swept through the area over the weekend. The club shared photos of several uprooted trees in an Instagram post announcing that the club would be closed until further notice.
PGA TOUR _ Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., and Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., are the only Canadians in this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Taylor enters play this week 112th in the FedEx Cup rankings and Svensson is 126th.
KORN FERRY TOUR _ Toronto’s Albin Choi leads the Canadian contingent into this week’s NV5 Invitational at the Glen Club Golf Course in Glenview, Il. He’ll be joined by David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., and Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont. Choi is ranked 89th on the second-tier tour, Hearn is 117th and Silverman is 190th.
Salimah Mussani makes collaboration the heart of her coaching plan for Golf Canada
Salimah Mussani, Team Canada Women's Head Coach (Golf Canada)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Golf may be an individual sport, but Salimah Mussani believes that collaboration will take Canada’s golfers to the next level.
Mussani was named the head coach of Golf Canada’s women’s team last Friday and the Burlington, Ont. native has already set to work conferring with players and alumni alike. It’s all part of Golf Canada’s stated goal of having a total of 30 golfers on the LPGA Tour and PGA Tour within the next decade.
“How we actually get them there is by making sure they have that support team, making sure they have access to all the things that they need,” said Mussani. “Whether it’s finances, whether it’s a technical coach, whether it’s some specialty, whatever it is, you know, physio, chiro, acupuncture.
“Whatever it is that they need, that we can help them to have to be their best selves, I think is kind of the crux of getting them there.”
Part of Mussani’s process is to acquire as much information as possible from a variety of sources. Golf, like many professional sports, is increasingly data driven with analytics able to show athletes how their play is developing over a season shot-by-shot.
Mussani said she and assistant coach Jennifer Greggain will rely on that hard data but are also looking into anecdotal input. To that end, she has sent a survey to alumnae of Golf Canada’s programs, including Hall of Famers Lorie Kane, Gail Graham and Marlene Streit, to find out what they think could help the current generation of golfers.
“Everybody’s working toward the same goal and the same vision, which makes it that much more fun.”
Calgary’s Jaclyn Lee, a member of Team Canada’s young pro squad, said she appreciates Mussani’s collaborative approach. Lee believes that a healthy team-first culture will lead to strong results, even for a sport like golf which ultimately comes down to individual performances.
“(Mussani) wants to come in here and make a difference,” said Lee. “She’s not just coming here with her own ideas of what she wants to do and what she thinks it’s going to be best for the team. She’s reaching out to alum and asking what their opinions are of the program and what they felt could have been changed while they were on the team.
“I think that’s a testament to who she is, how she’s taught us, and gives a little bit of insight of how she’s going to run this team going forward.”
Mussani is a two-time Ontario junior champion, a two-time Canadian junior champion, and a key member of an NCAA runner-up golf team at Stanford University. She also competed as a professional on the Epson and LPGA Tours, as well as the former Canadian Women’s Tour.
She has held assistant coaching roles with Stanford University, University of British Columbia, and Team Canada.
Mussani believes that her background as a player and experience working with varsity athletes gives her valuable insight as a coach. She also said that being a woman coaching young women may be helpful to building relationships.
“I think, for a player to relate to a female coach, I think it’s a lot easier,” said Mussani, who noted she’s working primarily with young women between the ages of 17 and 25. “I think of myself when I was a 19-year-old girl. It would have been hard for me to pick up a phone and call an older guy and be vulnerable.
“I’ll have that closer path for the girls to get to know them and to forge that relationship in a little closer knit way.”
Maddie Szeryk agrees with Mussani. The young pro squad member from London, Ont., said that she’s looking forward to building a relationship with her new head coach.
“I think that’s part of what makes her relatable, we all feel comfortable in talking with her,” said Szeryk. “She’s just really helpful and I think just very easygoing but also is a great coach and is firm with things. She’s very encouraging.
“She’s just really eager to get going and wants to know how she can help us, looking at stats and coming out to tournaments. I know she’s really excited for the role and I think we’re all really happy for her.”
Salimah Mussani promoted to Women’s Head Coach of Team Canada
Salimah Mussani, Team Canada Women's Head Coach (Golf Canada)
Golf Canada announced today that Salimah Mussani has been promoted from Assistant Coach and named as Women’s Head Coach for Team Canada. Mussani will oversee the development of Canada’s top female amateur and professional golfers with the objective of increasing the number of Canadian players on the LPGA Tour.
“I am extremely honoured and grateful to have this opportunity to lead our women’s program into this next phase,” said Mussani. “Having the opportunity to help our country’s top female golfers achieve their dreams and succeed is a blessing. “I am looking forward to working together with everyone who is involved in the development of our players on their journey to the LPGA Tour.”
A two-time Ontario Junior champion and two-time Canadian Junior champion, Mussani brings a wealth of competitive experience having been a key member of a NCAA runner-up golf team at Stanford University before competing as a professional on the Epson and LPGA Tours, as well as the (former) Canadian Women’s Tour. Mussani is a former PGA of Canada Women’s champion and winner on the Epson Tour and (former) Canadian Women’s Tour. Mussani has held assistant coaching roles with Stanford University, University of British Columbia, and Team Canada. Originally from Burlington, Ont., Mussani is a PGA of Canada class “A” professional who now resides in Vancouver.
Jennifer Greggain of Chilliwack, B.C. joins Mussani on the coaching staff of Team Canada as a full-time Associate Coach, transitioning from her current role as Assistant Coach for the National Junior Squad. A former LPGA Tour player with 22 years of professional golf experience, Greggain previously served as a Provincial Coach for British Columbia Golf and as the Assistant Coach for Team Canada.
“I am incredibly excited to work alongside Salimah as we lead our women’s program into the future. We are both very passionate about Canadian women’s golf and feel well-prepared to help Canada pursue its player development goals,” said Greggain.
“We are excited about the leadership that Salimah and Jennifer will provide for our women’s program. In addition to enhancing the performance of Canada’s best amateur and professional players, they will create a supportive and communicative culture that prioritizes overall wellbeing for our Canadian women during their journeys to the LPGA tour,” said Golf Canada High Performance Manager Emily Phoenix.
Golf Canada’s High-Performance program builds on the support that Canadian athletes have received in their development years from their family, member clubs, personal coaches, university programs and provincial golf associations. In addition to Golf Canada Foundation and the generosity from the major donor Trustee program, Golf Canada’s High-Performance Program and Team Canada are proudly supported by RBC, Canadian Pacific, Audi, Titleist, FootJoy, COBRA PUMA GOLF, Foresight Sports, Heritage Canada, Bear Mountain Resort, Citi Canada (Young Pro) and the Canadian Olympic Committee.
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.”
The 2022 Women’s Young Pro Squad will welcome a pair of new additions in Selena Costabile (Thornhill, Ont.) and Maude-Aimée LeBlanc (Sherbrooke, Que.), along with returning players Jaclyn Lee (Calgary, Alta.) and Maddie Szeryk (London, Ont.). Golf Canada is also pleased to welcome back Rebecca Lee-Bentham (Scarborough, Ont.) who rejoins the Young Pro Squad after a brief hiatus from her professional golf career. The selection criteria for 2022 was expanded on the women’s side to recognize the more significant impact of COVID-19 on professional playing opportunities in the women’s game.
Comprising the 2022 Men’s Young Pro Squad are returnees Chris Crisologo (Richmond, B.C.), Hugo Bernard (Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que.), Jared du Toit (Kimberley, B.C.), Stuart Macdonald (Vancouver, B.C.) and Joey Savoie (La Prairie, Que.). Blair Bursey (Gander, N.L), and Myles Creighton (Digby, N.S.) will also join the Young Pro Squad program as new members.
“Expanding the roster of Canadian athletes and revising the Young Pro Squad selection criteria to support more players in their path to the LPGA and PGA Tour is an extension of the enhancements introduced to our High-Performance program and the continued support we are grateful to receive from Golf Canada Foundation trustees and our Team Canada supporting partners,” said Golf Canada Chief Sport Officer, Kevin Blue.
Derek Ingram of Winnipeg, Man. will continue as Head Coach of the Men’s Young Pro Squad. Golf Canada is undertaking a search for a new Women’s Head Coach with gradual transition of Tristan Mullally of Dundas, Ont. to the newly created position of National Talent Identification Director to support Golf Canada’s enhanced High-Performance Program.
Now in its ninth year, the Team Canada Young Pro Squad supports aspiring professional golfers move up the ranks on the developmental tours with the ultimate goal of putting more players on the LPGA and PGA TOUR. Since the inception of the Young Pro Squad in 2014, current and former team members have accounted for 50 wins across various professional golf tours including PGA TOUR wins by Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners, as well as a record 10 LPGA Tour wins by Brooke Henderson.
Funding for the program comes in large part from the Golf Canada Foundation and Trustees who are generously supporting through major gifts. In addition, robust support is provided by founding partners RBC and Canadian Pacific, as well as supporting partners Citi Canada and Bear Mountain Resort – the Official Training Centre of Golf Canada’s National Team program.
Click here to read the 2022 Team Canada Young Pro Squad player and coaching staff bios.
EMERGING PROFESSIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD
The Golf Canada Foundation is also proud to announce Maude-Aimée LeBlanc and Stuart Macdonald as the recipients of the Emerging Professional Player of the Year Award, presented by Andrew Cook. In recognition of their notable results and improvement in 2021, each received $10,000 towards their continued development in professional golf.
In 2020 Andrew Cook, a proud Trustee of the Golf Canada Foundation, and past President with Golf Canada, established the $20,000 annual fund to recognize a top male and top female emerging Canadian professional golfer. Previous recipients include Taylor Pendrith, who graduated from the Young Pro Squad program after securing his PGA TOUR card in April 2021, and Maddie Szeryk who earned her LPGA Tour card in December 2021.
“We are very pleased to name Maude-Aimée LeBlanc and Stuart Macdonald as the Emerging Professional Players of the Year,” said Martin Barnard, CEO of the Golf Canada Foundation. “We are incredibly grateful to Andrew Cook for his continued support in impacting the lives of young professional athletes as they pursue their goals.”
LeBlanc, a former member of the Team Canada Amateur Squad who came out of retirement in 2021 and earned her LPGA Tour card through strong results on the Epson Tour, notched nine top-10 results with two runner-up finishes on the season. With a renewed passion for the game, she finished sixth on the Epson Tour money list to successfully secure her 2022 LPGA Tour.
Stuart Macdonald began 2021 without Korn Ferry Tour status but progressed from conditional status to playing a near-full calendar of Korn Ferry Tour events. Macdonald earned seven top-20 finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour including a T3 showing at the REX Hospital Open to earn full status on the Korn Ferry Tour for 2022.