Riley Wheeldon of Comox was one of five PGA Tour Canada players to earn a Web.com Tour card for 2014 on Sunday, Sept. 15.
Mackenzie Hughes, Mark Hubbard, Hugo Leon and Wil Collins were the others. The top five finishers on the PGA Tour Canada’s Order of Merit after last week’s tour championship at Sunningdale in London, Ont. earned Web.com Tour status next year — first place fully exempt, the rest in varying degrees of conditional status.
Hughes, a native of Dundas, Ont. finished atop the Order of Merit with $52,114.29 and earned fully exempt status while Wheeldon, Hubbard, Leon and Collins will have highly placed status on the path to the PGA Tour next season.
“I’m delighted to see Mackenzie Hughes and the rest of The Five get rewarded for their excellent play this inaugural season,” said PGA Tour Canada president Jeff Monday. “We look forward to seeing these players follow the footsteps of the many PGA Tour Canada alumni who have made their way to the Web.com Tour and PGA Tour.”
Hughes was the leading money winner in PGA Tour Canada’s inaugural season and was named PGA Tour Canada Player of the Year thanks to a win at the Cape Breton Celtic Classic presented by PC Financial as well as two other top three finishes. Hughes finished with a $6,791.79 lead over Wheeldon.
Wheeldon finished second on the Order of Merit to earn his Web.com Tour card. The 22-year-old, who plays out of Crown Isle in Courtenay, won the Syncrude Boreal Open (his first PGA Tour Canada win) and finished third at the Times Colonist Island Savings Open to earn the bulk of his earnings on the season. Wheeldon earned Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week honours in both Fort McMurray and Victoria.
“I got off to a good start this season and that put me in a good position, but I had a bit of a lull in the middle and that made things a little more difficult for me. But I’m not so much shutting it (being No. 2) out as embracing it. I have to keep it in perspective and realize I have one foot in the door. I’ve got some time off after this, so now’s the time to give it all I’ve got and get that second foot in the door.”
Wheeldon also looks to the success of Graham DeLaet and David Hearn on the PGA Tour.
“For a while, there was a vacancy at the top of Canadian golf,” he said. “Graham is playing some all-world golf right now and what he and David are doing is motivating everyone, even on this level. It’s a good shock of competitiveness to Canadian golf.”
Wheeldon has spent the last two winters in Orlando “and being able to dedicate myself to golf 12 months a year has helped. And being able to play in the (Canadian Open) this year was an eye-opener; you realize how competitive golf really is and that the quality of golf is quite similar to this tour.”