Defending champ looking for a sign

KEN WIEBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:58 AM ET

When Wes Heffernan pulled into the parking lot at Pine Ridge yesterday morning, the anticipation of being able to see his name among the past champions was high.

Imagine his surprise when the last Players Cup champion's name on the placards was 2007 winner Mike Mezei.

"When I first came here I thought it would be cool to see my name up there," Heffernan said after competing in the morning pro-am event. "Finally I win and I come in and it's not there, which was funny. But it was up when I got to the 16th hole. It's pretty cool."

The $200,000 Canadian Tour event begins tomorrow morning and Heffernan is excited about the chance to defend his crown at the Donald Ross course.

Naturally, the memories were flowing as he played the course for the first time since his victory last July.

"I had spent most of the (2008) year not performing well on Sunday, but I finally did that day," said Heffernan, who shot a 5-under 66 in the final round last year to win the title by one stroke over John Ellis and Dustin Risdon. "It was nice to come through. Actually, I haven't performed that well since then. Maybe I can do it again this year."

Aside from the pride of being able to defend, Heffernan needs a win this week in order to qualify for the RBC Canadian Open next week at Glen Abbey.

"It gives you confidence knowing you've won before," said Heffernan, a four-time winner on the Canadian Tour. "I feel comfortable on this course. Not just the win, I've played well here before. It's nice to be back here."

The Calgary product has made the cut in five of six events on the Canadian Tour this season, with the lone miss coming last weekend in Saskatoon, snapping a string of 18 consecutive finishes in the top 25.

His highest finish came two weeks ago at the TELUS Edmonton Open when he tied for ninth.

"I spent about a month-and-a-half with a trainer getting my flexibility. I came into the season thinking it would actually help me, but I lost my swing for the first time," said Heffernan, who has earned $15,997.52 this season to sit 21st on the Rolex Order of Merit. "The swing didn't feel the same as it did before and I've been struggling with my ball striking, which has always been my strength. It's been frustrating. I've been consistent scoring and hadn't been over par until last week, but I haven't been able to shoot the 64, 65s."

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos