by Adam Stanley
OTTAWA – With just one week left before the National Capital Open to Support our Troops, there was some final housekeeping items to take care of Thursday from Hylands Golf Club, as the final three sponsor exemptions were announced.
Jon Mills, Derek Gillespie and Lieutenant David Blais will be in the field when the event kicks off next week.
Mills and Gillespie are long-time professionals, while Lieutenant Blais is the reigning Canadian Armed Forces National Golf Champion.
The three men join Devin Carrey, Lee Curry of Rideau View Golf Club and amateur Josh Goheen as the six exemptions.
Goheen, 20, will be making his Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada debut.
“I’ve played this course a lot over the past eight years and it’ll be good to compete for the club and wear a Hylands shirt,” Goheen, whose father, Kevin Goheen, is the President of Hylands, said Thursday. “It’ll be fun.”
Goheen currently attends Campbell University in North Carolina, the alma matter of Ottawa’s Brad Fritsch. It was announced Thursday that Fritsch would return as an ambassador for the tournament once again this year, but would not be on-site during the tournament itself. He will be in the Web.com Tour field that week after participating in the annual Rideau View Pro-Am on August 17.
Tournament Director Doug Langton said 25 people applied for sponsor exemptions, but that number does not include 2003 PGA Champion Shaun Micheel. Micheel, as first reported by Flagstick, applied for an exemption into The Great Waterway Classic.
Langton has an advisory board made up of six people who also advised him on marketing the tournament, and they became his sponsor exemption committee as well.
“We sat down and said, ‘ok, of these folks who asked for exemptions, who do we take?’ They’re not necessarily the most deserving because there are so many good golfers out there, but we took into consideration sponsor interest, fan interest and media interest,” Langton said. “We felt the more local, the better.”
As the tournament gets ready for its second iteration – although technically, a new tournament as compared to 2014’s Forces & Families Open – Mackenzie Tour Director of Tournament Business Affairs Scott Pritchard said he’s excited for what’s to come next week, and in the future, as the contract for the National Capital Open is for three years.
“Ottawa in general is a golf-crazed community,” explained Pritchard. “This year (the tournament) has done a good job of promoting within the community with local media partners and golf courses and engaging with various entities in the community.”
Pritchard continued to say he was impressed that the tournament has broadened their scope in terms of partners. He knows the on-course product is as good as it’s ever been.
“Often what Jeff Monday (Mackenzie Tour president) would say is that if you took 10 PGA Tour players, 10 Web.com Tour players and 10 Mackenzie Tour players and had them lined up on the driving range and you couldn’t see their heads, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” he stated.
The National Capital Open begins August 20 and concludes August 23.