Yes, the 2005 Welsh amateur champion Ryan Thomas took first place in Florida by a massive six strokes last Friday. He won $2,000 and a chance to play a full season on the Canadian Tour. Considering the Canadian Tour is almost completely overlooked by Europeans and full of North Americans (no surprise, I suppose), Ryan’s feat is pretty rare. However, it could easily be the launch pad to something big in terms of his golf career.
Players who have graduated from the wonderfully nicknamed Cantour include former Masters champion Mike Weir, Chris DiMarco, Craig Parry, Steve Stricker, Jason Bohn and Arron Oberholser. It is said that the top 25 Canadian Tour graduates have amassed more than $350 million in prize money over the years and won over 90 PGA Tour titles.
In addition, Spencer Levin, the Canadian Tour’s 2007 Rookie of the Year, earned a spot on the 2008 Nationwide Tour (America’s version of the Challenge Tour) a year later and, when he finished 22nd on that money list, he booked a ticket to the PGA TOUR for 2009.
Ryan certainly had a good time on his Canadian sojourn. After his win, he said: “Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good and played really well. I was able to come here three weeks ago and practise out here a few times. It was my putting that made the big difference this week. I didn’t want to think about the big lead I had (on the last day), I just wanted to go out and make some birdies. I was fortunate to have a fast start and then was able to relax.”
Canadian Tour players are regularly battling for prize money of $250,000 per event – far more than the EuroPro Tour and about on par with a Challenge Tour tournament – so it is surprising that only a few Europeans give it a try. In Florida, Ryan was joined by just three fellow Europeans: EuroPro regulars and fellow Welshmen Cennydd Wells (who finished tied 27th) and Carl Wakely (tied 39th) plus England’s Denny Lucas (tied 57th). With only the top nine securing Tour Cards, you can tell this Canadian Tour Q School was a tough event.
Another Cantour Q School is already underway in California. More details of that later this week.
Ross Biddiscombe is the author of Golf On The Edge: Triumphs & Tragedies Of Q School. For more information, go to golfontheedge.co.uk