Mackenzie Tour Q-School Makes Return Visit To Crown Isle

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Class will be in session once again at Crown Isle Golf Resort in Courtenay, where the last of five Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada spring qualifying schools is being held May 1-4.

It’s the last chance for players to earn a ticket to this year’s 13-stop Mackenzie Tour, which begins its season May 31-June 3 with the Freedom 55 Financial Open at Point Grey Golf & Country Club in Vancouver. Victoria’s Jake DuVall, last year’s B.C. Amateur champion, and 2014 B.C. Amateur runner-up Mike Belle of Burnaby are among the field of 132 players who will compete in the 72-hole competition at Crown Isle.

The winner will earn a full exemption on this year’s Mackenzie Tour, while players finishing second through fifth are exempt through the first eight events. Those finishing sixth through 16th place are exempt through the first four events, while those finishing 17th through 40th get conditional status.

This is the fifth straight year Crown Isle has played host to the final Q-School of the season. Director of golf Rod Prieto says it’s been a good fit. “It has been good to see some of the guys who started here get to the and PGA Tours,” Prieto said. “Our members for the most part really embrace the event and are excited to volunteer for it and take players in as billets. It also helps us get our course in great shape. By May 1 our course is in pristine condition and ready for the whole season.”

Another British Columbian of note competing at Crown Isle is former B.C. Junior Boys champion Riley Wheeldon of nearby Comox. Wheeldon, a past winner on the Mackenzie Tour, is back at Q-School for the second straight year. He tied for sixth last year at Crown Isle, but failed to finish in the top 60 on the 2017 money list and retain his exempt status.

A trio of former British Columbia collegiate players are also in the field at Crown Isle as former UBC Thunderbirds Nate Ollis of Victoria and Evan Holmes of Calgary will be joined by Bret Thompson of Winnipeg, who competed for Simon Fraser University.

Last year, it took a 72-hole score of six-under or better to finish inside the top 16 at Crown Isle. Horacio Leon of Chile won by five shots with a score of 19-under par. That great play at Q-School did not translate into much success on the Mackenzie Tour for Leon, who made only three of 10 cuts last year.

CHIP SHOTS: Purses have been increased by $25,000 to $200,000 at this year’s Mackenzie Tour events. . .In addition to the Point Grey stop, the tour makes two other B.C. stops, with the Bayview Place DC Bank Open presented by Times Colonist scheduled for June 7-10 at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria, and the GolfBC Championship going June 14-17 at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club in Kelowna.