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John Daly helps boost Bear Mountain profile as it looks to host Pacific Links golf tournaments

Posted on July 1, 2016

It may be short notice, but Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria will undergo an audition this September, with the possibility of being the host site for future Pacific Links Championship tournaments at stake.

Initially, the 2016 Pacific Links Championship was supposed to be held in Tianjin, China, but an explosion in the city’s port that reportedly killed 173 people last August led to the cancellation of last year’s tournament and to this year’s competition being moved to Victoria.

It was announced in May that Victoria would host the event from Sept. 19-25. Organizers usually have a year to prepare for an event, however with the quick turnaround this year, one of the biggest challenges for this tournament is recruiting somewhere between 500 and 700 volunteers, putting directors in place and training staff properly. There are a number of other logistical elements, according to tournament director David Skitt.

The field will consist of 81 golfers, including two-time major champion and one of the sport’s most compelling figures in John Daly, vying for the $2.5 million purse.

Pacific Links International is now into the fourth year of a six-year commitment with PGA Tour Champions. The event will remain in Canada for the next two years following September’s tournament in Victoria, and a positive review of the course at Bear Mountain Resort — which opened in 2003 — combined with strong response from local golf fans and the business community could go a long way in bringing it back to The Garden City beyond 2016.

“It’s so much easier from an organizational standpoint to return to a venue that we’ve been to, where you’re not starting from scratch once again,” Skitt said in a phone interview, later calling the community a “perfect set up” for a Champions tour event.

“We’ve got a partner in Bear Mountain that has really laid out the red carpet and wants to build upon this, and building it into something that will be an annual event. That’s a really good commitment. What it comes down to is the players have to like the place, which, we fall back to what Paul Goydos was saying … which was, ‘How can you not like this place?’ And we’ve got to have good support from the business community and from the fan base.

“So I would say we will probably regroup really soon after this year’s event and make that decision of what to do for the next two years.”

This year’s tournament received a major boon when it was announced Monday that Daly, who turned 50 in April, had committed to play in Victoria. Since joining the PGA Tour Champions, he has played in six events, making the cut five times with two top-20 finishes right out of the gate.

Known for his freakishly long drives off the tee but feather touch in the short game, flamboyant outfits and the odd on-course blow-up, Daly brings a must-see factor to the tournament.

“He’s out of the box. That’s what’s kind of cool about him,” said Skitt.

“You can have three Hall-of-Famers teeing off on the first hole and (Daly) teeing off on the 10th hole and you’ll get 90 per cent of the crowd following him — and that’s good. He’s a trailblazer in his own certain way for golf.”

Hadwin ‘elevates the bar’ at VGT’s Vancouver Open

A week off from the PGA Tour schedule, compounded by the cancellation of next week’s Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia because of record flooding, has allowed Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin to return to his roots for the weekend.

The 28-year-old Hadwin, who has made 15 cuts in 21 events on the PGA Tour this season, was back at Ledgeview Golf Club, the course he played growing up in Abbotsford, teeing off Friday in the Vancouver Open on the Vancouver Golf Tour.

Hadwin is a two-time winner of this event, too. He fired a one-under par, 69, in the opening round.

Friday’s first round took place at Ledgeview, before the event moved to Pagoda Ridge in Langley for the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.

“I think it will be great for the guys that get paired with him for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, too. I’m sure he’ll be in the hunt,” said Fraser Mulholland, commissioner of the VGT. “It will definitely elevate the bar.

“When they see a guy like that, a PGA Tour player in the field, I think their mindset says now, ‘We better bring our ‘A’ games. And hopefully if we do, we do get to play with (Hadwin) on Sunday.’ That would be a great experience.”

Story by: Cam Tucker