Rising amateur star Sarah-Eve Rhéaume is having a breakout season, topping the field at two professional tournaments in consecutive starts this summer. But the trophy she would most like to lift is still ahead of her.
The 22-year-old from Quebec City is among the entrants in the 108th playing of the Canadian Women’s Amateur, which begins Tuesday at historic Westmount Golf and Country Club in Kitchener, Ontario. Rhéaume faces a strong Canadian and international lineup that includes a dozen of her teammates on the national amateur squad, but with her recent form she has to be considered among the favourites.
Rhéaume says she isn’t overly concerned about her legacy as an amateur, but acknowledges she’d love to put her name on the Canadian Women’s Amateur trophy alongside historical greats such as 11-time champion Marlene (née Stewart) Streit, Brooke Henderson and international stars Ariya Jutanugarn, Jennifer Kupcho and Yealimi Noh.
“It’s just such a nice prestige that comes with being the champion of your own country,” she said by telephone as she drove from Florida to North Carolina for last week’s North & South Amateur, where she advanced to the round of 32. “It would be unreal for sure.”
Rhéaume plans to return to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, in the fall for her fifth and final year of U.S. college golf, and then next year will contemplate turning pro. But first, there’s a busy summer schedule that includes the stop at Westmount, a Stanley Thompson-designed classic whose origins date to 1929.
She’s yet to play Westmount but doesn’t think that will hurt her chances, saying the courses and setups for the Canadian Women’s Amateur always have been to her liking. She tied for fifth place last year and shared 24th in 2019. (The 2020 event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.)
“I want to say it’s definitely one of my favourite events, just playing at home,” she said.
“It’s a great event, quality fields and it’s super fun. Playing at home is unreal.”
If good vibes aren’t enough, her momentum also should carry her along. Rhéaume won the amateur division at the prestigious Glencoe Invitational in Calgary in June after setting a course record in her final round. Her overall score was two shots better than the winner of the pro division, making her the low woman at the event.
The Quebecker followed that with another win among the pros, in her home province at the Ororo PGA Women’s Championship of Canada, dusting a field that included a runner-up and third-place finisher who’ve played on the LPGA Tour.
“Playing against them, getting comfortable against them, and then seeing it’s actually something that I can do that is realistic, it’s good for my confidence,” Rhéaume said.
Her win in the Ororo PGA Women’s Championship of Canada earned her an even bigger shot against the pros: a berth in the LPGA Tour’s CP Women’s Open in August.
Golf Canada on the move: Golf Canada’s grand vision of creating “a home for Canadian golf” appears to be moving forward. The game’s governing body in Canada is expected to announce on Wednesday that it’s relocating its head office to TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley in Caledon, Ontario, as part of a plan to create a golf centre that eventually would include the national headquarters of the First Tee program, a free community putting green akin to The Himalayas at St Andrews, a training facility for the national amateur team and other young prospects, and an expanded Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum.
Golf Canada is based in Oakville, Ontario, at Glen Abbey Golf Club, but with that club’s on-again, off-again plans to redevelop the property, the governing body has been seeking new grounds. TPC Toronto is a 54-hole public facility that features three courses that are all ranked consistently within Canada’s top 100. The club also plays host to a PGA Tour Canada event, the Osprey Valley Open, which begins Thursday.
Garrett Ball, Golf Canada’s chief operating officer, gave an overview of the $27 million golf-hub idea this spring when he approached local government for funding, Caledon media reported then. The organization is seeking about a third of the total cost from three levels of government.
TPC Toronto and the Golf Canada Foundation are taking part in the announcement Wednesday, indicating the club and private donors, through the foundation, would be contributing to the centre, too.
Junior clinic at Women’s Amateur: The Canadian Women’s Amateur will feature the country’s best young talent of today – and perhaps inspire a few stars of tomorrow. The tournament is holding a unique junior clinic on Tuesday at Westmount to give a couple of dozen girls a chance not only to practise their driving, chipping and putting but also to absorb the atmosphere of a marquee championship.
After the clinic, the girls will meet up with Westmount junior members and together they will follow players competing in the opening round of the Women’s Amateur.
The girls, ages 8-10, were drawn from two Waterloo Region organizations – KidsAbility, which assists children with special needs, and Anishnabeg Outreach, a centre for Indigenous healing.
Tournament director Lori Spoltore said the Future Champions Junior Girls Golf Clinic expands upon the efforts Westmount has been making to expose the game to a more diverse audience. The club also holds summer camps for kids, programs for local schools and regular clinics for women. But the girls event Tuesday will be the first of its kind at Westmount and fits with the tournament’s overall theme of giving golf a healthy future.
“Perhaps we will discover the next Brooke Henderson walking the fairways at Westmount,” Spoltore said.
Svensson secures future on PGA Tour: With his best career finish on the PGA Tour, Adam Svensson not only pushed over the US$1 million mark in season earnings but also guaranteed a playing card for 2022-23.
Svensson, of Surrey, British Columbia, led the Barbasol Championship this month after a first-round 62 before settling for sixth place. Still, he moved to No. 88 in the FedEx Cup standings as of last week to lock up his card. (The top 125 at season’s end in August keep full-time playing privileges.)
The sixth-place finish eclipsed his previous best, a tie for seventh at the Sony Open in January.
This year is the 28-year-old’s second stint on the PGA Tour. In his rookie year of 2018-19, he didn’t earn enough to keep his card and had to return to the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour.
Ewart wins U.S. Amateur qualifier: A.J. Ewart of Coquitlam, British Columbia, earned a spot in the U.S. Amateur in August by winning a qualifying tournament in Washington State this month. The member of Canada’s national amateur team will join compatriots Piercen Hunt, Matthew Anderson and Bennett Ruby in the field at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. That trio booked their spots at other qualifiers in June.
It’s been a big summer for Ewart. He also teed it up at the RBC Canadian Open to make his PGA Tour debut.
Golf Ontario Hall of Fame: Golf Ontario is playing catch-up in adding to its Hall of Fame. The organization didn’t hold any induction ceremonies during the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this month will add a handful of players and builders to represent the classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Former tour pro Jon Mills, a two-time winner on what was then known as the Nationwide Tour, has the highest profile of the group. He was an amateur standout before turning pro and reaching the PGA Tour, and currently is the head golf coach at his alma mater, Kent State University in Ohio. Other players being ushered in are club pros Danny Mijovic and Brian McCann.
The entrants designated for 2022 are blind-golf pioneer Nick Genovese and superintendent David Stewart Menzies Gourlay, both of whom will receive the honour posthumously.
An induction ceremony for Mills, Mijovic, McCann and Genovese is to be held July 24 at Woodington Lake Golf Club north of Toronto, coinciding with PGA Tour Canada’s stop at the club for the Ontario Open later in the week. Gourlay's ceremony will be Oct. 17.