Ames singing new 'toon

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

His beaming face plastered on the front page alongside Mickey Mouse yesterday, it's pretty safe to say Stephen Ames achieved much more than just his third career PGA Tour win on the weekend.

By chumming around with ol' Mickster after Disney's Children's Miracle Network Classic in Florida Sunday, Ames also very likely attained Coolest Dad of the Year status with sons Justin, 10, and Ryan, 8.

"I haven't talked to the kids about that yet, but I'm sure I'm going to hear all about it when I pick them up from school," chuckled Ames while waiting for a connector flight from Toronto to Calgary.

However, despite the fact the king of all cartoon characters also handed Ames a cheque for $828,000 U.S. and a Disney-produced trophy the boys are sure to manhandle, not everyone in their Calgary household is thrilled with dad these days.

"He's in big trouble for 18," said wife Jodi of the final hole approach shot that forced Ames to get up and down from a bunker 65 ft. away to clinch the one-stroke win.

"All of us were biting our nails and screaming and yelling. We were so relieved when he hit it a couple feet away. We've been to Disney World several times for the tournament, so the boys were very jealous when they saw Mickey and Dad on TV and they weren't there. They feel like it's their home, kind of."

Picking up his first win in a season that saw him overhaul his swing with the help of coach Sean Foley, Ames believes at age 43 he can still challenge the world's best.

"You've got to believe that -- the things we've changed and worked at make me more consistent and give me more chances to compete -- the evidence is there," said Ames, who credited the new swing for relieving stress on his lower back.

"It's to the point I play pain free, which is so important in a game renowned for lower back pain. Even though I played mediocre at times, overall it was a good season because of the swing changes and learning to play golf again with them."

Finishing the year 31st on the money list with $2.1 million US, Ames had his best season yet at the majors collectively, finishing 10th at the U.S. Open, 24th at the Masters and 12th at the PGA Championship where he struggled in the final pairing with Tiger Woods.

The win comes two weeks after fellow Canadian Mike Weir used a revamped swing to break a lengthy winless streak, setting the stage for an improved outlook for Canadian golf.

"Everything's positive for Canadian golf," said Ames, referring to the recent success of the President's Cup in Montreal as well as the fact Oshawa's Jon Mills re-acquired his PGA Tour card via the Nationwide Tour.

"The Canadian Open has a sponsor (RBC), we're getting more guys out there representing Canada and now we just have to develop more golfers for the future."

Not that his kids needed any more reason to be proud of their Pops, but $25,000 of Ames' winnings were designated for the Alberta Children's Hospital.

"I haven't had the opportunity to go there yet but I'm going to make time for that when I get home," said Ames.

That's if the boys will let him out of their sight.


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