Burlington ON - The Southern Ontario Open presented by Pure Organic Foods was contested on July 22 to July 25 at Clublink's Hidden Lake Golf Club (New Course). Players in the field were extremely impressed by the golf course conditions, with green speeds consistently running 11 to 11.5 each round. One player stated "Bring the Grandstands, fans and grow the rough another inch and you can easily have the Canadian Open here this week."
With the RBC Canadian Open being contested down the road at Glen Abbey Golf Club and the near magical run by Brantford ON native David Hearn it reminds us of a time over 10 years ago in 2004. Hearn made some history by being the only player in Canada to win at three professional levels before securing his 2005 PGA Tour Card. That summer he won a Great Lakes Tour Platinum event at Hidden Lake in which he followed it up with a win at the Times Colonist Open (MacKenzie Tour). A few weeks later he played in the Alberta Classic (Web.com Tour) and won by a stroke. Finally he secured his PGA Tour Card later in December, by draining a 60 foot putt to Qualify on the number.
Ten years later the road to the PGA Tour is not as easy and players now have to spend time on each Tour to secure their spot at the highest level.
Chris Ross, a native of Dundas Ontario and member of the MacKenzie Tour, has played the Southern Ontario Open the past three seasons. With the Mackenzie Tour taking a week off for the RBC Canadian Open, it offered an opportunity for Ross to come home and compete at Hidden Lake Golf Club. With other competitive options available during the same time period, Ross made the decision to be close to family and compete for the first prize that will ultimately assist in sending him to the Web.com Tour Qualifying School in the Fall...
Chris shared the 36 hole lead with younger brother Nicholas Ross and the family rivalry motivated Chris for the remainder of the tournament. Chris took the 54 hole lead at 10 under par after a third round 67 and was good for a three shot lead over Nic.
The Final round pairing would be set having Chris and Nic playing alongside Camiko Smith from Bermuda. Chris and Camiko got off to a shaky start both posting a bogey on the second hole. Chris Ross proceeded to make four birdies on holes 3,4,6 and 8 to post an outward score of 32 and move to 13 under for the tournament. The only other player in the final two groups to post a front nine score under par was Brian Cvetkovic from Burlington ON who made eight pars and a birdie.
"I three putted my second hole and that was really my only mistake all day." said Chris Ross of his start. "I have never played a competitive round of golf with my younger brother and he motivated me all day."
Chris kept his foot on the gas pedal and made three birdies on the back nine to post a final round score of 65 and eventually a 6 shot victory.
Camiko Smith couldn't get anything going on the front nine and on the inward nine he made a move in what became a race for second place. Smith birdied the 11th hole and then made a eagle on the par 5 14th to move him to 7 under par for the tournament. His birdie on the 16th hole moved him to 8 under par and he eventually posted a 3 under par round of 68 to finish solo third.
"This was a fun event on a great course that first heard about when David (Brisson) came to Bermuda for the World Par 3 Championship." Said Smith. "Everything was great this week and I can't wait to play a little more competitive golf in Canada while I'm in town."
Brian Cvetkovic posted his first bogey free competitive round of his career making five birdies with four of them coming on the back nine. He slipped into the clubhouse at 10 under par for the tournament and this was good enough for second place all by himself. He will take home $3,000 for his efforts.
"This event made perfect sense for me. It was close to home, allowed me to work a few shifts at my day job and it was on a golf course I'm very comfortable on." Cvetkovic says about his final position. "I'm extremely excited about my finish and this will help my confidence going forward for the remainder of the season."
Making the biggest moves up the leaderboard during the week came from Sebastian Szirmak from Toronto ON and Jim Kenesky from Waterdown ON. Both players got off to rough starts in the first round with Szirmak posting an 81 and Kenesky a 78. Szirmak fired rounds of 69-63-68 and Kenesky 67-67-69 to both move into a tie for fifth with Luke Ovenden from Georgetown ON and Graham Baillargeon from Mississauga ON.
Nic Ross from Dundas ON never got things going during the final round but he did hold on to take the Low Amateur honours for the tournament. He finished the event at 4 under par and was good for a three shot margin over Matthew Scobie from Ajax ON.
Chris and Nic had a strong family contingent out to cheer them on during the final round. Their father Stephen Ross a Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member and former Executive Director of Golf Canada was on hand to watch his sons finish. When Chris tapped in for victory, it was a proud moment for the entire family as they erupted in applause for the efforts of Chris and Nic during the week.
"I can't say enough about the members of Oak Gables and my family. They have supported my career since day one and this win is for them." Chris said after he signed his card. "My Dad has supported me so much that I can't thank him enough. It means a lot to have the whole crew out today. I'm travelling so much that this week offers some much needed family time and to get a win while in town is just a bonus."
The Southern Ontario Open remains as the only Open Golf Championship in the province and is conducted by the Great Lakes Tour. Pure Organic Foods will continue their support for 2016 as presenting sponsor. The 2016 edition plans to be contested during the same week next season and will likely see a return back to Hidden Lake Golf Club for a fifth straight year.
For Full field results please CLICK HERE
For Information on the Great Lakes Tour CLICK HERE
For Information on Pure Organic Foods CLICK HERE