McCuaig takes aim at Amateur field

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

It's fitting that with the Cynergy Etto Quebec Amateur championship coming to our neck of the woods, a couple of local players have risen to the role of favourites.

The Quebec Amateur, which starts today at the Camelot Golf and Country Club in Cumberland, is the biggest title in amateur golf in the Ottawa Valley and the province of Quebec.

The favourite at this point just might be the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club's Chris McCuaig, fresh off a victory in the Alexander of Tunis tournament earlier this week at Rivermead.

"This is the granddaddy of them all," said McCuaig of the Amateur.

He took the week off work to play in the Tunis and get ready for the Amateur.

The Tunis win stamped the 31-year-old as the area's top player. He has been working up to that level over the last three years, sweeping the city titles in 2004 and advancing to the final 16 at the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship, a huge accomplishment in a tournament that attracts more than 4,000 entries.

A back injury at the Tunis slowed him down last year.

In addition to his Tunis win, he lost the Quebec Mid-Am title in a playoff this year.

McCuaig couldn't pick a better time to be playing well.

WILLINGDON CUP BERTHS

Also on the line over the next three days are spots on Quebec's Willingdon Cup team which will represent the province at the Canadian Amateur championship next month at the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club.

Golf Quebec revamped the selection format for its Willingdon Cup team this year. It used to be the winners of Quebec's big three tournaments -- the Duke of Kent, the Tunis and the Amateur --and a wild card formed the team.

Now, the winner of the Amateur automatically gets a berth on the team. The other three spots will go to the next three highest-ranking players in the point system based on performances in the Kent, Tunis and the Amateur.

Challenging McCuaig could be Brockville's Matt McMahon, who had strong performances in both the Duke of Kent (third) and the Tunis (second) to lead the points standings for the Willingdon Cup team.

Duke winner Stephane Pellerin of Ki-8-Eb finished T8 at the Tunis and is second in the standings, followed by McCuaig, who has a T9 at the Duke to go with his Tunis win.

Defending champion Keven Fortin-Simard bears watching, as well.

Camelot has been lengthened by about 200 yards and the Tom McBroom-designed course will now play 7,021 yards from the tips.

"The course is in really great shape," said Camelot head pro Barry Laphen.

Play in today's first round of the 54-hole tournament gets under way at 7:30 a.m. on both the first and 10th tees with the last times set for 1:38 p.m.


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