The past couple of days have been all about the baby boomers, including yesterday’s news that Gar Hamilton of the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club in Mississauga, Ont., had qualified for the U.S. Senior Open at the end of the month at Crooked Stick. See the GNN home page for that story.
The charge of the baby boomers continues today at The Marshes Golf Club at Brookstreet Resort in Ottawa, where Yvan Beauchemin of Louiseville, Que., begins defence of the 2008 Canadian PGA Seniors’ Championship he won in his first year of eligibility.
Beauchemin, a dominant player in Quebec, is hardly a longshot to repeat, having won four Canadian PGA Club Professional Championships over the years, including three straight from 1994-96, but he realizes that he has a stern challenge ahead.
Memories are still fresh from his one-shot win over Craig Marseilles of Maple, Ont., last year and he certainly stands out as a main contender in Beauchemin’s mind.
“You have Ken Tarling,” he added. “You have many other very good players from Ontario. You’ve got a lot of good players from Quebec as in Serge Thivierge and Claude Tremblay, guys I play against every week in Quebec,” said Beauchemin.
It doesn’t end there with several players in the field from various tours.
Rod Spittle of Niagara Falls, Ont., has spent the better part of the last four years on the Champions Tour, a circuit where Norm Jarvis of Surrey, B.C. has also played. Another B.C. native, Ray Stewart of Abbotsford, is a former PGA Tour player who helped win the Dunhill Cup for Canada in 1994.
“(Stewart’s) a fabulous player. I’ve played with Ray before,” said Beauchemin, reflecting on Stewart’s advantages. “I would say mileage. He’s been around many different courses in different countries. He knows his way around.”
Bruce Heuchan of Kelowna, B.C., is making his debut in the tournament after playing on the European Senior Tour, where John Irwin of Summerside, P.E.I., has also played.
Beauchemin will tee it up today in the same group as local favourite and past champion Graham Gunn. They are among several past champions, including Hocan Olsson, Adam Brown, Ken Fulton and three-time winner Bob Panasik, who last won in 2001.
So, experience on tour and experience in this particular tournament or both are common threads throughout the many contenders for the senior crown. The wild card is now the golf course. Beauchemin says rain in the area this year has made the rough thick, placing a premium on accuracy off the tee.
“You have pluses and minuses,” he said. “The thing is, when this course is wet, it’s easier to hit the fairway – you’re not going to get a bounce into the rough, but the negative effect is that if you go in the rough, the grass is full of water, so it will be very difficult.”
Today’s weather calls for sunny with cloudy periods with a high of 23 C in the Ottawa area and sunny with a high of 26 for Friday. Saturday could be dicey, however, with thunderstorms and a high of 21.
Keep an eye on GNN for round-by-round coverage of the 54-hole Canadian PGA Seniors’ Championship.