Gunn fired up for CPGA

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Graham Gunn is taking dead aim these days.

The 52-year-old is defending champion at the BreconRidge Canadian PGA Seniors Championship, which gets under way today with a field befitting a national championship at The Marshes Golf Club.

The former head pro at the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club chucked the security of a regular job to try and break onto the Champions Tour, but it hasn't been easy.

The Champions Tour is pretty much a closed shop with the graduates of Champions Q-School only earning the right to be in the field for Monday qualifying, where 60 guys are scratching and clawing for nine spots for that week's event.

Gunn didn't earn one of the exemptions at Q-School, so there have been weeks where he's had to qualify on Friday to get into a qualifier on Monday.

Gunn has yet to get into a Champions Tour event, though he has won and picked up a couple of seconds on the Heartland Players Senior Tour, a mini-tour circuit.

The challenge facing Gunn is changing his strategy when it comes to playing all those qualifying events.

Where a 54-hole tournament might demand patience and avoiding the big mistake, that approach doesn't work for the one-off qualifying events that determine Gunn's future these days.

"Playing in a tournament and playing in a qualifier are two different animals. It's a sprint, not a marathon. That's what this year is about, learning how to play qualifiers," said Gunn yesterday before teeing off in the CAA pro-am at The Marshes.

"I've decided you have to play it like a scramble. You have to aim at the flagstick. You have to get off to a fast start because if you try to be patient, you are going to be left behind," he said.

"You are going to find your self with three or four holes to go and needing to birdie all of them."

Gunn has missed making it into the Champions Tour event field by an excruciating shot. It has taken as good as a 66 just to get into the field any given week.

"If you're not deep, you're not in," said Gunn. "It wears on you.

"You wonder when it's going to happen."

That's not say Gunn hasn't been having a good time.

He has relished the opportunity to be free of the demands of running a pro shop and to have the chance to work on his game.

"I'm really enjoying the opportunity to just play and not have to do all the other things that keep a (club) pro busy like administration and staffing. You don't realize how much that's a part of the (club pro's) life," he said.

"Just to be able to work on my game has been a delight."

Gunn won last year's event at The Marshes with rounds of 73-68-69 for a two-shot win over 2005 champion Hocan Olsson.

Adam Brown, the 2004 champ, is also in the field and chasing the winner's share of the $55,000 purse.

Gunn, Brown and Gar Hamilton will play together today, teeing off at 8:10 off the first tee.

Former PGA Tour regulars Dave Barr and Jim Nelford give the event some marquee weight.

Olsson, Nelford and Canadian legend Bob Panasik will tee off at 8:10 off the 10th tee.

Barr is in the group behind them, along with Serge Thiverge and David Bell.

Admission is free.


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