Tuesday, August 27, 2013


The Wildfire Invitational-2013

Several weeks ago, I shared a note with you about a young South African who was wending his way across North America as a touring golf professional. Andrew Georgiou had earned a ticket to the Canadian Open, and was moving on to the Canadian PGA circuit.


                                               Andrew Georgiou, at the Canadian Open
Last weekend, he and his fellow professionals played in Morrisburg, Ontario, near Upper Canada Village. A golfer from Chile, Hugo Leon, birdied two of the final three holes to win his second PGA TOUR Canada victory.


After the final round, Leon breathed a sigh of relief: “This one is big for me. My game hasn’t been the same for me since November of 2011, and I have worked as hard as I ever have in my life the last year and a half to get back there. I feel very accomplished right now, and I feel very happy.” The top five finishers on the tour earn their way onto the “Order of Merit”, and receive a Web.com card for next season. The win moved Leon to the number four position on the list.


                                            Hugo Leon, at the Great Waterway Classic

Leon finished one stroke ahead of Brandon Harkins, from Scottsdale, Arizona. The next four finishers were also from the United States. Andrew Georgiou was next in line, finishing 17 strokes under par, and five shots off the pace. It was Georgiou’s best finish on the tour thus far this season. He shot a sparkling 62 in the second round of the tourney, establishing a course record in the Great Waterway Classic.


I spoke with him after the tourney. “I am really pleased with the result,” he told me. He and his group of more than a hundred fellow pros were packing their bags to head to Peterborough for this week’s tournament.


At this point in their careers, it is a grind. There is a large pot of gold at the end of the golfing rainbow, but it is tough to get there. It is comparable to a minor hockey player setting his skate on the ice in the NHL.


The Wildfire Invitational will be played on Stoney Lake, in the heart of Kawartha country. Opened in 2003, it is a private club that will entertain your membership providing that you bring along your cheque book. A little more than twenty grand will get you on the first tee.


A couple of lads from the Belleville area will tee it up at Wildfire. Jon Mills and his brother Jeff are expected to play in the tournament. They are the sons of Dave Mills, a recent inductee into the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame. Jeff Mills is the Director of Golf at Wildfire. He attended Jacksonville University in Florida, and played PGA TOUR Canada from 1996 to 1998. He played the Great Waterway Classic in 2012, and is a member of the 2012 CPGA Titleist Cup Team.


                                                   Jon Mills, with his dad, Dave Mills
Jon Mills won twice on the Web.com Tour, and was the PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit winner in 2003. He has played more than 250 events on the PGA TOUR and the Web.com Tour.


The Wildfire is the seventh of nine events on the PGA TOUR Canada summer season. Course owner, Glenn Stonehouse, has pulled out all the stops for this tournament. He is inviting a few of his friends and the amateur golfers from the event over to his “cottage” for an evening of music with Ronnie Hawkins and the Webber Brothers. Hawkins also lives on Stoney Lake, and recently earned the honour of being inducted into Canada’s “Walk of Fame”. “The Hawk” has been a legendary part of the Canadian music scene for decades. We grew up humming Hawkins’ tunes. I can almost hear “Mary Lou” ready to steal the keys of my Cadillac car. She has my diamond ring, and “watch and chain”.


As is always the case in major tournaments, there are practice rounds and Pro-Am events before the serious golf begins on Thursday. The tournament wraps up on Sunday. In 2015, the PGA TOUR Canada will host the event at the Black Bear Ridge course just north of Belleville. Mark that on your calendar right now. But I plan to see you at Wildfire this week. Check “wildfire.com” for details.



James Hurst

August 27, 2013  


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