Hard work paid off big time for Riley Wheeldon when he competed at the 2013 RBC Canadian Open. The 22-year-old Comox golfer realized a longtime dream by playing in his first-ever PGA Tour event, July 22-25 at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont.
“This is what I’ve been playing for since I first started playing golf. It’s finally here,” Wheeldon said of qualifying for the event. “I’m just going to go out there and play my game, shoot the lowest number possible and see where I end up at the end of the week.”
Playing on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, Wheeldon shot identical rounds of three-over 75 and failed to make the cut. The 14th hole proved particularly unkind, as he posted double-bogey six both days. He finished with six birdies and eight bogeys.
But just rubbing shoulders with some of the top golfers in the world (the field included Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Justin Leonard) was plenty to write home about.
“Absolutely thrilled to be a part of the 2013 RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey golf course in Oakville, Ontario,” Wheeldon posted on his website blog.
“The atmosphere of a PGA Tour event is unlike anything I’ve experienced thus far in my career and it is only Tuesday…I can only imagine how the vibe will progress as the week goes on.
Trying to soak it all in and enjoy the experience!”
Wheeldon earned his spot at the Canadian Open as one of the top three money earners on the PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit.
After four events, Wheeldon leads the PGA Tour Canada with $39,937 ahead of Americans Wil Collins and Stephen Gangluff at $34,243 and $28,444, respectively. The latter two — both previous PGA Tour members — also teed it up this past week at Glen Abbey.
Wheeldon finished third at the Times Colonist Open in Victoria (the inaugural event for PGA Tour Canada, formerly the Canadian Tour) then posted his first tour victory at the Syncrude Boreal Open in Fort McMurray, Alta. last week.
Wheeldon currently tops the Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week competition with a lead of $17,371.25 over Nick Taylor, who sits in fifth place at $22,556.25, The top Canadian each week earns the honour and a $1,500 cash prize, while the highest Canadian on the Order of Merit at season’s end will win Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Year honours and a $10,000 cash prize.