Rough campaign for local touring pros

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:45 PM ET

Ouch! That one word -- used both literally and figuratively -- best describes the year that was 2004 for Manitoba's touring golf professionals.

Selkirk's Glen Hnatiuk decided early in the PGA Tour season to stop feeling the pain of worsening tennis elbow and undergo season-ending surgery.

"It might be the start of the back nine of my golf career, I guess you could say," Hnatiuk told The Sun in July. "I actually expect to come back better."

The 39-year-old didn't have that bad of a year before going under the knife, making $103,500 in nine starts. That figure left him in 215th position on the money list, but Hnatiuk will be able to play on the PGA Tour in 2005 thanks to a medical exemption.

Meanwhile, on the Canadian Tour, Winnipeg's Rob McMillan led five Manitobans into battle.

McMillan, who recently celebrated his 29th birthday, shot out of the gates in 2004 with three top-seven finishes and $30,345 in earnings in his first five events.

After that, however, he finished no better than 19th and missed three cuts in the last four events of the season. He ended up 12th on the CanTour money list with $38,130.

McMillan's decline continued into October at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament in Texas, where he failed to advance past the first stage for the third time in seven career attempts.

'DIDN'T PLAY TERRIBLE'

"I didn't play terrible," McMillan told The Sun in November. "I just didn't play well enough. It sucks, but what are you going to do?"

The other four Manitobans who toiled on the Canadian Tour in 2004 didn't fare as well as McMillan and lost their 2005 playing status because of it.

Winnipeg native and tour sophomore Adam Speirs, who is still trying to get something going after his shocking appearance in the 2002 U.S. Open, fell to 104th on the money list with $3,718 in 13 starts.

Veteran Dean North, who hails from Carman, ended up 107th on the money list in $3,370 in 11 starts, and rookie Mac McLeod, of Brandon, struggled to 113th on the money list with $2,836 in 13 events.

Rounding out the not-so-fab foursome was Dauphin product Jason Hrynkiw, who now lives in Florida. He made four of seven cuts this season and ended up 114th on the money list with $2,386.

Hrynkiw earned partial status back at the CanTour's fall Q-school in September, but McLeod failed in his attempt.

So if McLeod, Speirs and North are going to get their CanTour cards back, they will have to do it at winter Q-school in Florida in late February.

Hrynkiw also tried PGA Tour Q-School this fall, but he was eliminated at the first stage.

TAP-IN: At the MTS Classic in July, Florida's Erik Compton earned a one-stroke victory over David Hearn, of Brantford, Ont., at Pine Ridge Golf Club.


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