Nats call on Albertans

RON MANZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:50 AM ET

A measure of how far Alberta golf continues to grow in relation to the rest of the country is the number of players our province has playing on the national team.

Two of the eight players on the women's team are Albertans with Calgary's Jade Polonich and Edmonton's Jill Swenson, while Calgary's Ryan Yip is on the men's squad.

Being selected to play on Canada's team was exactly what the doctor ordered according to Polonich.

"Having your game recognized as being one of the best in the entire country is an amazing feeling and I can't tell you how excited I am to be here now," said Polonich from her home in Edmonton where she lives and works at the Edmonton Golf and Country Club.

"I want to take my golf as far as I can and being named to the national team has just given me an extra boost of confidence now to push myself."

Polonich, who spent four years on a golf scholarship at the University of Mississippi, won the Saskatchewan amateur women's title last summer and was runner-up to Adrienne White for the Alberta women's amateur crown.

She has always wanted to become a touring pro and that desire is now greater than ever.

"I am giving myself two years to decide if my game is at the level it needs to be to compete on tour," she said.

"Playing for Canada means I am getting the chance to play in a lot of tournaments I otherwise couldn't afford to go in against the best golfers in North America and the world really. I'm never satisfied with my golf, there's always room to improve. I just have to see if I can take it to another level now."

Polonich and Swenson are both headed to England to play in the British Women's Amateur for Canada next week. The international experience to be gained will help but there is even more incentive to play well.

"The top finisher of the eight girls on our Canadian Team will get an exemption to play in the BMO Canadian Women's Open in Halifax this July," said Polonich.

"It's a chance to play with the big dogs and see how you stack up against the best professional women in the game."

Yip still has one more year left in his golf scholarship at Kent State University in Ohio.

The 2003 Alberta amateur men's champion says it was quite a thrill to get the call naming him to the national men's amateur team.

"I found out I was chosen, along with two of my teammates here at Kent State -- Peter Laws from Ontario and Marc Bourgeois from New Brunswick," said Yip from Cleveland.

"All of us are having a great time here in college and this is allowing us to extend that season by travelling and playing in a lot of other major amateur and international events together."


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