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Second annual Great Waterway Classic hitting region in August

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For those avid golf fans, circle August 19-25 on the calendar.

That is when professional golf will once again be hitting Eastern Ontario for the Great Waterway Classic – held at Upper Canada Golf Course this year.

The PGA Tour Canada event will feature up-and-coming golf stars such as Stephen Gangluff, who took home the trophy from last week’s tournament in Victoria; Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont.; Cory Renfrew of Victoria; and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C.

Also on hand will be Brad Fritsch, current PGA Tour pro and Ottawa native, who will be the honorary chairman of the event.

Fritsch was part of the Canadian tour from 2001 to 2006, and again from 2010 to 2011 before he fought his way back into the PGA Tour.

“PGA Tour Canada played a real role in my development as a player,” said Fritsch.

He currently ranks 121 in the FedEx Cup standings.

Fritsch said he hasn’t played a professional game near his hometown since 2001, and is excited for the tournament.

“Growing up in Ottawa, I can tell you the whole part of Eastern Ontario is a golf-crazy region,” he said.

However, he doesn’t have any advantage over any of the PGA Tour Canada players, as he has never played the course at Upper Canada Golf Course – although he has heard of it.

“I have always heard its one of the longest golf courses and one of the most difficult in the region,” Fritsch said.

This isn’t the tournament’s first time in the area. The Great Waterway Classic is part of a four-year deal with PGA Tour Canada to have an Eastern Ontario tournament for four years. Last year, the inaugural event was played at Smugglers Glen in Ivy Lea.

To get the course ready for the August tournament, Allen McNairn and his team have been hard at work resurfacing and leveling holes, adjusting tee-offs, and reshaping sand traps.

“I can’t wait,” said McNairn.

And for those who can’t wait to see the course, they can check it out all summer with a round of golf – or by taking part in the pro-am event scheduled for August 20.

The tournament will benefit the Cornwall Community Hospital foundation with a portion of the ticket sales and profits from special fundraising events supporting the hospital.

“People really care about hospitals,” said foundation executive director Connie Vardy. “The first thing they care about is hospitals. The second thing is golf.”

The event is expected to attract several thousand people to the area to watch the pros play Thursday through Sunday of the event.

With big urban centres such as Ottawa and Montreal nearby, Scott Pritchard, director of tournament business for PGA Tour Canada, sounded confident there will be big draws. The event typically brings in 4,000 over four days.

The audience is one of the things that makes the event so similar to the PGA Tour, said Fritsch, along with the travel that is also part of the Canadian tournament schedule.

The lanes will also be roped, just like in the big leagues, noted organizers.

“The most important part will be the level of competition. It will be unmatched this year,” said Pritchard.

kathryn.burnham@sunmedia.ca

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