Ontario golfers will form the largest part of the 2016 Team Canada Young Pro Squad.
Among the six athletes named to the team are five Ontario-based players: Augusta James (Bath, Ont.); Albin Choi (Toronto); Mackenzie Hughes (Dundas, Ont.); Taylor Pendrith (Richmond Hill, Ont.); and Corey Conners (Listowel, Ont.). They will be joined by Sue Kim of Langley, B.C.
The third year program provides support to athletes as they transition from amateur golf to the top levels of the professional game. Golf Canada worked with the PGA of Canada to develop the program which is supported by a number of sponsors including Canadian Pacific, RBC, Citi Canada and the Golf Canada Foundation Women’s Fund.
“We are very proud of the Team Canada Young Pro initiative and how it is helping to bridge the gap between amateur and professional golf,” said Golf Canada CEO Scott Simmons. “These fine athletes have demonstrated clear commitment to the game and the results over a short period have been tremendous.”
The two female players on the squad each won an event on the Symetra Tour in 2015 with Augusta James barely missing a top ten money list finish at the end of the season which would have earned her a spot on the 2016 LPGA TOUR.
The 22 year-old has had a long association with Golf Canada and continues that this year with the Young Pro Squad.
“I’m grateful to be back with Team Canada, which has played a huge role in my development as an amateur athlete,” said James. “Golf Canada has been with me for most of my golfing career and I am honoured to move up to the Young Pro Squad.”
The male 2016 Young Pro Squad looks very familiar with four returnees from 2015.
On the men’s side, four members of the 2015 Young Pro Squad will return to the program in 2016.
That includes 24 year-old Taylor Pendrith who finished third on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit to become one of five athletes to graduate onto the Web.com Tour with status for 2016.
“Having the Young Pro program so invested in my future success is very humbling,” said Pendrith about being involved with the 2016 squad. “I’m so happy to have all the guys back and am thankful for the continued coaching and advice from Derek (Ingram) and the sport science team.”
Hughes and Choi are third year members of the Young Pro Squad.
Hughes, now 25, earned his way back to the Web.com Tour for 2016 with T21 finish at stage-three of Qualifying School in December.
“The ongoing support from Golf Canada and the program supporters is a huge boost for me and my goals to improve my game,” Hughes commented on his continuing relationship with the team. “I’m very thankful for what the Young Pro program has meant to my career and continued development.”
Like Mackenzie, Choi is pleased to received the support. The 23 year-old plans to spend most of 2016 on the Web.com Tour via conditional status he earned by sharing 14th place at the third stage of qualifying school.
“I’m thrilled to be back on the Young Pro Squad and continue my journey as member of the Team Canada family,” said Choi. “The program has been such a huge help for my career and I’m looking forward to making great strides in 2016 to perform at the highest level.”
The last Ontario member of the team will be Corey Conners of Listowel, Ontario. He finished his rookie season as a professional in 37th place on the Mackenzie Tour and was recently the medalist at the forst of four PGA Tour-Latino America qualifying tournaments.
“This will be my fifth year with the Team Canada program which has become a strong bond – almost like a family,” reflected Conners. “I’m thrilled to be back on the Young Pro Squad and am looking forward to a successful 2016 season.”
Men’s National Squad coach Derek Ingram and Women’s National Team coach Tristan Mullally, both PGA of Canada Class “A” members, will provide coaching to their respective Young Pro athletes. In addition to funding and coaching support, the athletes will have access to Team Canada’s sport science staff, which includes Psychologist Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood, and Physiotherapist & Strength Coach Greg Redman.