If all goes according to plan, Calgary's Stephen Ames will spend a bit of November schmoozing with his old pal Mickey Mouse.
A year after finishing last season's PGA Tour schedule with a win at the Children's Miracle Network Classic, Ames would like nothing more than to once again be the player receiving the tournament's top prize, handed out by none other than Disney's most famous character.
And, in his quest to add back-to-back championships to his resume, Ames is heading to beautiful Lake Buena Vista, Fla., enjoying the role as defending champion.
"I'm going down to have some fun," Ames admitted yesterday, just days before the Nov. 3-9 tournament kicks off at Walt Disney World Resort's Magnolia and Palm courses.
"Obviously, it's always a delight to go back to an event as champion," he said.
"And it's a delight to be playing in this tournament again, to be playing in the Orlando area, an area I'm very familiar with. I'm excited."
Ames will no doubt be playing with an added level of confidence, having pulled off a one-stroke win in sunny Florida last year.
Ames fired a final-round 68 in 2007's Classic for a 271 total, good enough to hold off the likes of Tim Clark, Robert Gamez and Scott Verplank.
While fans have yet to see Ames win in 2008, he's actually enjoyed one of his best years on Tour.
A winner of the Players Championship in 2006, this year saw Ames' scoring average reach its best level since 2004, and 2008 also brought with it seven top-10 finishes, one of which was a solid third-place result in the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
"I've been very happy with my year so far," said Ames, whose 2004 Cialis Western Open win is among his three career PGA victories.
Heading to Lake Buena Vista, Ames described his game plan as being similar to the strategy he adopts in nearly every event, namely to make the most of birdie opportunities and keep his ball in play.
"I'm feeling good because my game has been more steady than it has been in the past," said a well-rested Ames. "Getting away from the game has always been a big attribute. It's an advantage to be very fresh mentally and physically."
Erik Compton has accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in this year's Children's Miracle Network Classic. Compton has overcome two heart transplants in his career.