Edmonton Open season

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

With the pros outnumbered by a three-to-one margin, maybe this will be the year an amateur lays claim to the Morgex Edmonton Open. Or, maybe not.

Even though just 15 professionals have thrown their clubs into the ring so far (compared with 45 amateurs) they're still the favourites heading into the 36-hole showdown Monday and Tuesday at Northern Bear.

"We've had some amateurs in the past who've come close, but they've stumbled a little bit in the final round," said Edmonton Golf Association president Pat Wren, heading up an event that's been dominated by the pros in recent summers. "But we do have some very good amateurs in the field, so maybe this will be the year."

PROS LOOK IMPRESSIVE

It'll take some doing given some of the talent on the pros' side. There might not be a lot of them, but the ones who are showing up will be pretty tough to beat.

Homegrown talent Stuart Anderson, a Canadian Tour regular, and former Canadian Tour player Stuart Hendley are the leading contenders. Pro Mike Belbin is also expected to make a charge.

Defending champion Anton Raubenheimer, who won with a spectacular birdie on the final hole last year (knocking his 156-yard approach shot to two inches for a tap-in to beat Hendley) won't be back. The 22-year old is playing pro in South Africa.

At least he has an excuse. Wren wonders why so many other local head pros and assistants aren't taking part.

"The last few years there have been very low showings from the pros," said Wren.

RUTLEDGE NOT INVITED ANYMORE

When Jim Rutledge played in 2003 and 2004, stopping by to scoop up a pair of first-place cheques on his way to Nationwide events in Calgary, many of the local pros were scared away. But Rutledge isn't invited anymore.

"He's in a different league," said Wren. "From a visibility point of view he helped Morgex and increased the profile of the tournament, but we also want to be conscious of our own local pros. We've asked him not to come back and he's fine with that."

But in the two years since, only a handful of Edmonton's pros have been willing to compete for the $3,000 first prize. Last year there were only 18 pros in a field of 77.

"I'm not sure what we need to do to increase participation," said Wren, adding there aren't any scheduling conflicts with Alberta PGA events this time. "That was their excuse last year but we worked with the Alberta PGA and made sure there were no events scheduled for those two days. So there aren't many excuses this year."

And there is still time for a few more pros to sign on.

CHIP SHOTS: Former Alberta Open champ Brandon Markiw will lead the amateurs' charge ... Kyle Crawford of Broadmoor, who shot an opening round 68 to to take the first round lead, only to shoot 80 on the second day, is back to try and finish the deal ... This is the second year of Northern Bear's three-year commitment to the Open.


Videos

Photos