After a quiet summer, James Allenby is ready to finally play some competitive golf.
Allenby, from Langley, B.C., will be in the field on Monday when the Canada Life Series tees off at Bear Mountain's Mountain Course in Victoria. It's the first tournament of the four-event mini tour organized by the Mackenzie Tour to make up for its season lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It feels like we're going back to normal with events like this," said Allenby. "Having tough competition, big fields to look forward to playing in because up until now it's been so whitewashed this year. It's just very plain and kind of boring."
The 35-year-old Allenby finished 17th on the Mackenzie Tour's Order of Merit last year, the second best result for a Canadian. Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., finished second to earn his way from the third-tier circuit on to the Korn Ferry Tour, which in turn is an entry point for the PGA Tour.
Although the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour have resumed their seasons after losing months to the COVID-19 pandemic, the difficulties of cross-border travel forced the Mackenzie Tour to cancel its 2020 season.
The Mackenzie Tour, Canada Life, Bear Mountain and TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley announced the mini-tour on July 10, giving top-tier players residing in Canada — like Allenby — an opportunity to play once again.
"I already consider the Canada Life Series a success and we haven't even played yet," said Scott Pritchard, executive director of the Mackenzie Tour. "That's how enthusiastic I am about it.
"The response from the players has been amazing. They're so thankful to have the opportunity to play."
Bear Mountain's Valley Course will hold the second event next week and two more tournaments will be played at TPC Toronto on Sept. 2-4 and Sept. 9-11.
It was announced on Thursday that a group of 11 Canadian golfers who cut their teeth on the Mackenzie Tour had pooled their money together to create a bonus bursary for the Canada Life Series.
Former PGA Tour winner Ian Leggatt came up with the idea. Leggatt and 10 other players are pitching in $1,000 to reward the player that shoots the low 18-hole round at each of the Canada Life Series’ tournaments. Every week, the player with the lowest single-day score will earn $2,750. In the event of more than one player shooting the low round, they will split that week's money.
"It's nice to see them do something like that for other Canadians in the professional world trying to make it," said Allenby. "Every little bit helps, honestly.
"I've been doing this a long time and I understand that all the little things that go into the journey and every little bit helps."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 9, 2020.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press