Choi Ready For A Pro Career

Albin Choi, of Toronto, plans to leave North Carolina State a year early and launch his pro career this summer. Canada’s top male amateur believes his game is ready for tour golf and it’s hard to argue. He won three U.S. college tournaments in a row this winter to bring his career total at N.C. State to eight, two off the school record held by fellow Canadian Matt Hill. The 20-year-old has also jumped to No. 9 in the world amateur ranking. “I wouldn’t be doing it (turning pro) if I thought I wasn’t ready,” Choi said by phone from Raleigh, N.C. “I just feel like everything has fallen right into place … everything’s good in my game.” Choi, a former member of the national amateur team who has represented Canada around the world, said he hasn’t made any agent or sponsor decisions yet and doesn’t know which pro events he might be able to get into. But he’s at least hoping for a return to the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open, at which he was the low amateur last year.

Golf’s newest Mr. 59 is an American who lives part-time in Southwestern Ontario with his Canadian-born father’s extended family. Jesse Smith carded the magic number of 59 last week during the first round of a Fore The Golfers Tour event in Orlando. He made 11 birdies at the par-70 Dubsdread Golf Course. “When you see it well and feel it well and you’re able to do it, those are the special days,” said Smith, a 33-year-old journeyman who stays on the Six Nations reserve near Brantford, Ont., during the summer when he’s playing on the PGA Tour Canada and Great Lakes Tour. He went on to place second in Orlando, stumbling in the final round with a 74 to open the door for winner Andy Pope. “That just shows you how golf is like life,” Smith said in a telephone interview. “Just when things are great, you’re going to face some obstacles.”


The First Tee of Greater Vancouver has found a foursome of high-profile B.C. golfers to champion its cause. The program that introduces golf to kids 7-18 named Web.com Tour rising star Adam Hadwin, of Abbotsford, PGA Tour Canada player Eugene Wong, of North Vancouver, Symetra Tour regular Sue Kim, of Langley, and Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Dawn Coe-Jones, of Campbell River, as ambassadors.

The spring qualifying school for PGA Tour Canada is fully booked, indicating a heightened interest in the developmental circuit now that it is under the PGA Tour’s umbrella. Scott Pritchard, director of tournament business affairs, says all 312 spots have been filled in the Q-school, which begins April 9 at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont, Calif. More than 20 other players were on the waiting list as of late last Friday. The top 20 finishers after 72 holes will receive fulltime cards for the 2013 season. The PGA Tour took over the 43-year-old Canadian Tour last year and will use it as a feeder circuit for its Web.com Tour. The top five finishers at the end of the season get promotions to the second-tier Web.com.

Wildfire Golf Club near Lakefield, Ont., is in the running to be host venue for the PGA Tour Canada’s season finale, according to The Peterborough Examiner. The Tour Championship of Canada, to begin Sept. 12, is the only one of the tour’s eight events that doesn’t have an announced venue. Pritchard acknowledged Wildfire is under consideration but said a decision won’t be made for about two weeks.

Morgan Bell has joined Golf Canada as its media and public relations coordinator. The Prince Edward Islander played professionally on the Symetra and CN Canadian Women’s Tours and caddied on the Sunshine Tour and PGA Tour Canada before turning to communications. Much of Canada might be still frozen over, but the country’s competitive golf season begins Monday in earnest anyway in temperate Surrey, B.C. The Vancouver Golf Tour launches its 2013 spring and summer schedule Monday at the Brad Garside Paine Edmonds Open. The mini-tour is beefing up this year. It’s turning four of its 18-hole events into 36-holers and combining them with two 54-hole tournaments to form a new “majors series.” Purses are growing, too, with the year’s top event projected to have a $100,000 prize pool.

PGA Tour rookie Brad Fritsch didn’t mind missing the cut at the Tampa Bay Championship on March 15. It gave him a chance to return home to see his newborn son Jesse Paul, who arrived the day before – two weeks early. “One of the best missed cuts I’ll ever have, I’d think,” the Ottawa native tweeted. Jesse is a second child for Fritsch and his wife, Megan.

The PGA of Canada has sent a letter to the United States Golf Association to say it opposes the proposed ban on anchoring. The Canadian organization conducted a survey among its 3,800 members and found that 63 percent of respondents oppose the ban, which was put forward by the rules makers at the USGA and R&A in Britain. The PGA of Canada questioned whether anchoring a putter (or other club) to the body has been scientifically proven to be advantageous and suggested a ban could hurt the growth of the game.

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