Montreal Championship huge success

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:54 PM ET

BLAINVILLE, Que. - The inaugural Montreal Championship didn’t take long to rocket up the pecking order on the Champions Tour.

The huge turnout at the Fontainebleau golf club - organizers said attendance for the three tournament days topped 54,000 - gave the event the feel of a tournament on the regular PGA Tour.

“We were joking on the first tee we had not played in front of crowds like this since we were on (the PGA) Tour,” said John Cook, who had his third runner-up finish of the season on Sunday. “We get good crowds a lot and great community involvement every single week, but this week they really came out.”

According to organizer Dave Skitt of Synchro Sports, the breakdown was 12,000 fans for Friday’s opening round, 20,000 on Saturday and 22,000 for Sunday’s finale, making it one of the best-attended tournaments on the Champions Tour.

Other players ranked the atmosphere this week just below the majors on the Champions Tour - and not by much.

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Crowd favourite Fred Couples hung onto top spot on the money list with his tie for fifth Sunday. The $66,240 he earned boosted his winnings this year to $1,327,092. Think he’s a good bet for rookie of the year?

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The Fontainebleau golf club was set up to yield a lot of birdies for the week - 976 compared to 463 bogeys as the field averaged 70.013 strokes a round - but if it’s not a major, let the guys put on a show. The players certainly thought it was fun.

“It was and that’s what the fans love to come out and see,” said Loren Roberts, who finished in a tie for fifth after a 67 Sunday. “They love to come out and see birdies and eagles. It couldn’t have been a better first year (for the tournament), I have to tell you.”

There were 195 rounds of par or better over the three days.

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The course was set up at better than 7,000 yards, but driving distance was hardly a determining factor of who made the top 10. The only guy in the top 10 in driving distance to break into the top 10 for the tournament was Couples, who was second for the week at 299 yards. Winner Larry Mize was 38th at 277.8 yards and runner up John Cook was T54 at 271.3.

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Quebec won the unofficial Canadian championship with two pros from both La Belle Province and British Columbia in the field. Quebec’s Yvan Beauchemin had a 72 Sunday to finish in a tie for 55th place at 3-under par with a total of 213. Quebec’s Daniel Talbot had a 73 Sunday to finish the tournament in a tied for 63rd place at 215. British Columbia’s Jim Rutledge had a bogey-free round of 70 to finish in a tie for 38th place with the low total for the Canadians while Dave Barr, also from B.C., had a 74 to finish 74th at 4-over.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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