In just two weeks the Ontario Open returns. It will be played for the first time since 1996.
The championship dates back to 1923 when Andy Kay was the winner. Through the years significant players like George Knudson, Moe Norman, and Sam Snead have captured the title.
It continued to be played even through the Second World War but finally fell prey to a lack of sponsorship and support in 1979. It lay dormant for a decade then returned sporadically as part of the Canadian Tour from 1989 to 1996.
Golf Ontario announced the event’s return earlier this year, with a projected purse of $40,000 and a long-term deal with the Woodington Lake Golf Club as host.
“We are thrilled to be bringing back the Ontario Open, one of the oldest golf Championships in the world in 2019,” said Mike Kelly, Executive Director of Golf Ontario. “This Championship will be a true open championship and should attract some of the best golfers in Ontario and beyond to test their games on the beautiful Woodington Lake Golf Club.”
With the chosen dates of August 27-29, the plan was to time it when a large variety of players could be available to come to Tottenham, Ontario. That includes pros playing on a variety of tours around the world.
A number of qualifiers took place to help build the field and exemptions were also awarded both through tournaments and through special invitations.
The invitations have yielded some of the most interesting players, with some celebrity cache meant to bring attention to both the Ontario Open and the inaugural Ontario Disability Golf Championship, which will be played at the course from August 23-25.
Hockey, Football, and Music
Among the notable invitees are NHL player Daniel Alfredsson who payed 18 years in the NHL, 4x Grey Cup Champion quarterback Damon Allen, and Jeremy Taggart, who was the drummer for iconic Canadian band Our Lady Peace for 21 years.
Alfredsson is the most talented golfer among the trio. The Royal Ottawa Golf Club member is a low single digit player and a regular on their club’s intersectional team. He has played in provincial level amateur events.
Allen runs several golf charity events and says he is both “excited and nervous, all at the same time,” to play in the Ontario Open. He shared his thoughts in a recent Twitter post:
Taggart is also an avid player, to the point that he often had a TrackMan launch monitor in the studio while he was working. Now half of the duo (with Jonathan Torrens) of the Taggart & Torrens Podcast, Taggart is rarely without his clubs, plays on occasion with recent PGA TOUR Canada winner Taylor Pendrith, and says he is looking forward to playing in the tournament.
“Having Daniel, Damon, and Jeremy, three major Canadian celebrities, competing at Woodington Lake Golf Club in a few short weeks is really exciting,” said Mike Kelly. “This is going to be one event to watch for sure, and these three exemptions will give golf fans another reason to get excited about the return of the Ontario Open.”
Among the pros taking part will be former PGA TOUR winner Ian Leggatt, and regulars on various professional circuits like Derek Gillespie, Russell Budd, Greg Eason, Patrick Newcomb, Riley Wheeldon, James Seymour, Drew Nesbitt, Dennis Hendershott, Lucas Kim, Austin James, and Josh Whalen. 2011 Big Break Indian Wells winner David Byrne is also in the field.
There is also a long list of fine amateurs who will be competing. You can find the full field list here.
It should be quite the return for the Ontario Open, 93 years after it was first played, and spectators are encouraged to attend.