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Road to the PGA Tour: Canadian Tour season tees off with Victoria Open

The PGA Tour Canada could be the start of something great for Noah Steele. He's one of 31 Canadians in the field at this week's Royal Beach Victoria Open, the first tournament of the season on the PGA Tour Canada.
The PGA Tour Canada kicks off its season this week with the Royal Beach Victoria Open. Noah Steele of Kingston, Ont., shown in a handout photo, is just one of the Canadian golfers on the third-tier tour hoping it will take his career to the next level. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Golf Canada **MANDATORY CREDIT**

The PGA Tour Canada could be the start of something great for Noah Steele.

He's one of 31 Canadians in the field at this week's Royal Beach Victoria Open, the first tournament of the season on the PGA Tour Canada. The 25-year-old Steele, from Kingston, Ont., said that the third-tier tour means a lot to him, and not just because it's in Canada.

"It's the beginnings of the journey to the PGA Tour, which is what all of us are looking to get to someday," said Steele after a practice round at Uplands Golf Club. "It's a path to the next step being the Korn Ferry Tour.

"I played the Canadian Tour for the first time last year, and there's really nothing like playing for something that matters and something that's going to hopefully move you forward in your career, or teach you the lessons that you need to learn to hopefully be successful at the next stages."

Steele is correct. Some of the best Canadian golfers on the PGA Tour, the top men's pro circuit in the world, got their start on the PGA Tour Canada or its predecessors.

There are seven Canadians in this week's U.S. Open, the most ever in a men's golf major topping the six at the PGA Championship earlier this season. All seven of them played in the Victoria Open in the early stages of their career and five of them came through the PGA Tour Canada.

"You could be one of the players that ends up in that position, three, four, five, six, 10 10 years down the road," said Steele, pointing to RBC Canadian Open champion Nick Taylor as an example of how the PGA Tour Canada can lead to the highest levels of the sport.

"(Taylor) was a really high-level amateur but he actually spent a couple of years on PGA Tour Canada. I think those guys are all a really good example for Canadians that it's not a 1-2-3 step process all in a row. Sometimes there's an up and back and then a spring forward."

Scott Pritchard, the tour's executive director, said that players are excited to compete for the Fortinet Cup and its $100,000 bonus pool as well as Korn Ferry Tour status for next season. He noted that the quality of the play on the Canadian Tour is just as high as the PGA Tour, but that the third-tier tour teaches golfers discipline.

"These are all really good players but it takes some of them a bit longer to learn the professional game and the pressures that come with that both on and off the golf course," said Pritchard from Victoria. "That's everything from the travel to managing your time correctly, when to practice, when to take a break eating healthy, working on your fitness. 

"For some players that takes a bit longer and you know, some players figure it out quicker."

There will be 10 events PGA Tour Canada events this season, culminating in the Fortinet Cup Championship at Calgary's Country Hills Golf Club. It will also be the last season for the circuit, as it will merge with the PGA Tour Latinoamerica in 2024 to create the new PGA Tour Americas.

Despite that reconfiguration, all but one of the PGA Tour Canada's events will return next year. The Americas tour will have a total of 16 events, six in Latin America, two in the United States and eight in Canada.

PGA TOUR — Taylor rocketed from 32nd up to sixth on the FedEx Cup standings following his dramatic playoff victory at Toronto's Oakdale Golf and Country Club on Sunday. The product of Abbotsford, B.C., leads the Canadian contingent into the U.S. Open, the third major of the men's golf season. Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., round out the record-setting seven-man group.

KORN FERRY TOUR — Edmonton's Wil Bateman is the lone Canadian in the field at this weeks Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Wichita Open at Crestview Country Club. Bateman is 36th on the second-tier tour's points list. Bateman tied for 68th at the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday.

LPGA TOUR — Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., is 11th on the CME Race to the Globe standings heading into this week's Meijer LPGA Classic in Belmont, Mich. No. 63 Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., is also in the field at Blythefield Country Club.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2023.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press