Manitoba Open ‘completely happy to be again’ – Winnipeg Free Press

It’s among the oldest golf tournaments in North America, one that now dates back more than a century and has only been interrupted by two things: A World War. And then a global pandemic.

But now it’s back after a two-year hiatus, and with the original name to boot. The Manitoba Open (most recently known as the Players Cup when last held in 2019) tees off Thursday morning at Southwood Golf & Country Club and runs through Sunday, with the stars of the PGA Tour Canada hoping to take the next step in their quest to make it to golf’s biggest stage.

“We’re extremely proud and happy to be back,” said executive director Scott Pritchard. “It’s as competitive as it’s ever been as you’ll see this week, and as we’ve seen throughout the season.”


The Manitoba Open (most recently known as the Players Cup when last held in 2019) tees off Thursday morning at Southwood Golf & Country Club.

A look at some recent Manitoba winners shows how this truly can be a springboard for even greater success. CT Pan (2015), Kramer Hickock (2017) and Tyler McCumber (2018) can now be seeing going toe-to-toe with the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Rory Mcllroy and Justin Thomas on the biggest stages in the spot.

You also have well-known golfers like Tony Finau (currently ranked 13th in the world), Joel Dahmen and J.J. Spaun and Canadians including Corey Conners, MacKenzie Hughes and Nick Taylor who cut their teeth up north before making it big down south. In the past nine years, 250 golfers have graduated to the Korn Ferry Tour, with 54 of them eventually moving up to the PGA Tour.

In other words, some of these guys really are going places. Catch them here while you can.


Travis Trace is photographed August 17, 2022 practicing his swing at Southwood Golf and Country Club before the Manitoba Open, which starts tomorrow.

The 2022 Canadian season began in June in British Columbia and has included six events so far. (A seventh, in Saskatchewan, was ultimately washed out by rain earlier this summer). There are three stops remaining after this, and the stakes are increasing with each passing week.

At the end of the year, the top five finishers in the money rankings — also known as the Fortinet Cup — get their cards for the Korn Ferry for next season, while finishers six through 10 have conditional status. As well, the No. 1 ranked golfer gets an exemption into the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open next June. There’s also $100,000 in bonus money awarded to the top players, including $25,000 to the winner of the Fortinet Cup.

The current top 10 is as follows:

1. Danny Walker (U.S.) – Won Tournament #4 in Toronto

2. Wil Bateman (Canada) – Won Tournament #2 in his hometown of Edmonton

3. Brian Carlson (U.S.) – Won Tournament #3 in Prince Edward Island

4. Ryan Gerard (U.S.) – Won Tournament #6 in Quebec

5. Scott Stevens (U.S.) – Won Tournament #1 in Victoria

6. Noah Goodwin (U.S.) – Won Tournament #5 in southern Ontario

7. Jake Knapp (U.S.)

8. Thomas Walsh (U.S.)

9. Cooper Dossey (U.S.)

10. Cooper Musselman (U.S.)

A total purse of $200,000 is on the line, with the Manitoba Open champion claiming $36,000 and adding their name to a long list of winners dating back to 1919 which includes legendary names such as George Knudson, Moe Norman, Dan Halldorson and Dave Barr. The field of 156 will be cut down to the top 60 and ties after the second round.

Fourteen different countries and territories are represented this week, with the United States (99) and Canada (37) having the most competitors. But there are also players from Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Switzerland, Thailand and Zimbabwe.

In terms of local flavour, there are two Manitobans in the field. Braxton Kuntz is on a sponsor’s exemption after winning back-to-back Manitoba Junior and Amateur titles earlier this summer, the first player in provincial history to do so. Just 18, the Breezy Bend member is on a scholarship at Nicholls State University in Louisiana. He’s set to undergo surgery next month for a heart arrhythmia condition known as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), an abnormality that occurs when faulty electrical connections in the heart set off a series of early beats in the upper chamber.

“He has the distinction of being the youngest person in the tournament this year,” said Neil Taylor, the chair of the Manitoba Open.

Colwyn Abgrall of Niverville is the other. He earned his way in as one of eight Monday qualifiers, shooting a 67.

Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele will also compete under a sponsor’s exemption, just as the Ontario native did in 2018 when he shot rounds of 87-86. His inclusion is meant to bring added eyeballs to the product. A word of warning — if you’d like to see him in action, best to get out either Thursday (2:40 p.m. tee off, in the same group as Abgrall) or Friday (9:30 a.m. tee off). Don’t bet on him making it into the weekend given the calibre of competition.

“Mark has become a very popular member here at Southwood. Which no doubt gives him home course advantage against the rest of the field,” joked Taylor.

Southwood should pose a heck of a test, especially if the wind starts blowing. The par-72 is playing to 7,311 yards, and the fescue is long and punishing for those who can’t keep it on the straight and narrow. Plenty of rain and heat has it in mint condition.

“We believe this is one of the better Tour stops on the whole schedule,” said Jeff Scott, the COO of Southwood.

There’s some new bells and whistles this year to try to draw more eyeballs to the product, including increased concessions, added grandstand seating and a “party zone” on the 17th hole, in which a DJ will spin music, food and beverages will be available and fans will be able to watch pros attack the par-three from close up.

“Its’s based on the Waste Management 16th hole (a popular feature on the PGA Tour’s annual stop in Arizona). Hopefully it will be a lot of fun for players to be cheered on to make birdies,” said Scott. “Just don’t take it personally if you don’t make your birdie and get booed.”

CentrePort has signed on as the new title sponsor of the event, while the True North Youth Foundation is the charitable arm of the tournament, with 100 per cent of net profits going towards various endeavours including Project 11 and Camp Manitou.

“This event has been such an incredible one for this community for so long,” True North chairman Mark Chipman said Wednesday at a luncheon following the pro-am, in which he played on a team that included Jets associate coach Scott Arniel, director of communications Scott Brown, and former Jets forward and Winkler product Eric Fehr. They were paired with the red-hot Carlson, currently No. 3 overall on Tour.

“I’ve caddied in this event, I’ve watched this event. It always astounds me how incredible the level of play is in this tournament,” said Chipman. “It’s always been one of the premium events on the Canadian Tour and something our community is very proud of.”

Rounds 1 and 2 begin at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and Friday, with play continuing into the early evening. Weekend tee times will depend on how many ultimately make the cut, but those near the top of the leaderboard should be taking their first swings around the noon-hour.

Tickets for any/all of the days can purchased online at

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Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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