Steele looking to make his mark at Osprey Valley Open
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Caledon, Ontario -- Noah Steele is looking to become the next Canadian to find the winner’s circle this season on PGA TOUR Canada. And judging from his track record, Steele will be among the players to watch at this week’s Osprey Valley Open presented by Votorantim Cimentos CBM Aggregates, where he won as an amateur just two years ago.
Canadians have won two of the first five events on PGA TOUR Canada halfway through the 10-tournament schedule. Stuart Macdonald of Vancouver, British Columbia, won last week’s Commissionaires Ottawa Open to join countryman Etienne Papineau of St-Jean-sur-Richilieu, Quebec, who took the season-opening Royal Beach Victoria Open.
In 2021, Steele was only 23 years old when he birdied five of the last eight holes on the final day at the TPC Toronto course to beat Papineau, who was also an amateur at the time. Steele came back in 2022 and missed the cut.
The idea of returning to the spot where he’s had success is appealing to Steele, who played through an early-season thumb issue to post two top-10 finishes this season. He stands 21st on the season-long Fortinet Cup standings.
“You don’t get to win very often and even shooting the scores I did that week are things I draw on all the time when I’m playing other places,” Steele said. “So, coming back here and being in the exact spot is one thing, but I think this place in the morning is pretty special. Just the sun coming up and getting going is a pleasant place to be. It’s got a good feel.”
Steele hopes the weather this summer will resemble that of his 2021 victory rather than the windy conditions that made things more unpredictable and difficult a year ago.
“In 2021 we didn’t have much wind and last year we had a lot of wind,” Steele said. “So that was like a totally different golf course with the amount of wind we got. Now, for somewhere in the middle, it would be OK.”
Steele said accuracy is a key at TPC Toronto, where the fescue rough can be problematic.
“First off, ball in the fairway,” Steele said. “If you have the ball in the fairway, you can really control it a lot better and you can also hit It to areas that are better to miss and pitch from. You can have some green to work with. You can be aggressive from the fairway but also kind of hitting to the fat area and giving yourself a putt so you’re not too stressed out there.”
Macdonald got his long-awaited breakthrough last week when he defeated Devon Bling on the fourth playoff hole for his first victory in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event since he turned pro in 2017.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Macdonald, who moved up 50 places to No. 6 in the Fortinet Cup standings. “I feel like I’ve put myself in this spot a few times and haven’t gotten it done, but it feels amazing to finally get it done.”
Another Canadian who has been playing well is Jimmy Jones of Lake Cowichan, British Columbia. He shot a 62 on Sunday and moved into a tie for 12th at Ottawa, his best finish of the season. Jones won the final PGA TOUR Canada qualifying tournament and has made the cut in all five events. The consistent play has him at No. 28 in the Fortinet Cup.
“Just keep pounding that rock, is what I call it, because you never know when it’s going to crack,” Jones said. “I’ve been knocking on the door for a while and even the guys I’m traveling with, they’re pumped up to see me do well and I’m pumped up to see them do well.”
Two-time winner Davis Lamb remains in first place of the Fortinet Cup standings after he tied for 12th at the Commissionaires Ottawa Open last week. Lamb has 1,059 points, leaving him comfortably ahead of John Pak (646 points), Papineau (610), Chris Korte (581) and Sam Choi (514).
The winner of the season-long points race will earn a $25,000 bonus and full status on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2024.
Noah Steele will have plenty of company this week. He will be joined by his mother and his sister, as well as his wife, Paige, and her twin sister. The Steeles are newlyweds and this will be the first time Paige has been in the gallery this season to see him play. “My mom and my sister, they watch the leaderboard closely every week, breaking the refresh button. This is the first time for my wife to watch me play in Canada and her twin sister Cami has never been to Canada. So it’ll be a fun dynamic,” Steele said.
Danny Walker won the Osprey Valley Open a year ago by defeating Cooper Musselman in the first hole of a playoff. It was his second PGA TOUR Canada win, the other being the 2018 Freedom 55 Financial Championship. Walker is currently competing on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Eric Lilleboe has made the cut in 12 consecutive events. His best finish this season is a tie for ninth at the ATB Classic in Edmonton. Lilleboe hasn’t missed a cut since the 2022 Prince Edward Island Open.
Rookie Sam Choi leads PGA TOUR Canada with five top-10 finishes. Choi, a rookie who played at the University of New Mexico before finishing his career at Pepperdine University in the spring, has not finished worse than a tie for sixth all season. He shot a 62 at the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open.
Drew Nesbitt of Toronto and Andrew O’Leary both shot 66 in the Monday qualifier at Nobleton Lakes Golf Club in Nobleton, Ontario, to earn their place in the field. O’Leary played at Notre Dame and will be making his PGA TOUR Canada debut. The other six spots went to Logan Perkins, Victor Ciesielski, Kevin Gordon, John Foster, Chris Minton and Tyler Hull. Davis Lamb won the ATB Classic as a Monday qualifier last month and has since added another victory to lead the Fortinet Cup standings.
Micah Morris, a professional golfer and YouTube sensation, received a sponsor exemption. Morris has 443,000 YouTube subscribers and 307,000 Instagram followers.
“My game is good. It needs to be a little tidier. I think that’s been the main thing, just cleaning things up a little bit, minimizing some errors, because the pieces to play and post some good rounds are there. I just want to be a little more consistent. It’s been a nice progression from being hurt to being where we are.” – Noah Steele
“I am so pleased to be heading to TPC Toronto to tee it up in my first PGA TOUR Canada event. Competing in a tournament at this level will be one of the biggest moments of my career so far. I’ve been working incredibly hard to prepare myself for challenges like this and I can’t wait to test my game against some outstanding players.” – Micah Morris
“I trust my golf game. I know that I can win. I’ve done it before. I just need to believe in myself and believe in that capability and just go out there and enjoy myself.” – Devon Bling
Dates: July 27-30, 2023
Tournament Name: Osprey Valley Open presented by Votorantim Cimentos CBM Aggregates, the sixth of 10 official Fortinet Cup events
Social Media: Twitter/Instagram/Facebook: @PGATOURCanada
Twitter/FB: @OspreyOpen; Instagram: @OspreyValleyOpen
Host Course: TPC Toronto – Heathlands Course
Par/Yardage: 71 (36-35), 6,989
Field: 156 players from 9 countries and territories
Countries: Argentina (1), Australia (3), Canada (38), England (2), France (1), Japan (1), Mexico (2), Switzerland (1), United States (107)
Fortinet Cup Points: Winner earns 500
Purse: $225,000, with the winner earning $40,500
Cut: Top-60 professionals, and ties, after 36 holes plus any amateurs inside the top-60
Title Sponsor: TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley has 54 holes, with the Heathlands links-inspired layout serving as the tournament course, and two more courses: the rolling, Parkland-style North course (then known as Toot) and the Wasteland-style Hoot course, both as unique as the Heathlands in their own way. The North hosted the tournament in 2018 and 2019 and is currently undergoing renovations that will keep it out of action the rest of the year. Architect Ian Andrew is working on the project, which includes expansion of runoff areas and strategically relocated bunkers and tee boxes.
All three courses were originally designed by Doug Carrick, for whom Andrew worked. Opening in 1992, brothers Jerry and Roman Humeniuk purchased the property shortly after, keeping with its accessible and welcoming appeal, Osprey Valley was added to the TPC network in 2018. With much excitement building around the property, another milestone was reached in 2022 as Golf Canada and Osprey Valley announced a partnership and bold vision to build a new Home for Canadian Golf – a momentous project that will see the National Sport Federation relocate its corporate base of operations to TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley. The campus will include national headquarters for First Tee – Canada, with a publicly accessible community putting green and an indoor training center.
Presenting Sponsors: Votorantim Cimentos was founded in 1912 in St. Marys, Ontario by John Lind and Alfred Rogers, They participated in Toronto landmarks such as CN Tower, Roya Thompson Hall and Maple Leaf Gardens. CBM Aggregates was established principally in Ontario, Canada, St. Marys CBM is the building materials division of St. Marys Cement. With the head office in Toronto, the company has more than 450 Ready-Mix trucks operating out of 40 plants.
Benefiting Charity: The Humenuik Foundation has raised $200,000 for local charities since 2018. Chris Humenuik is president of the foundation and First Tee Trustee. His father Roman and his uncle Jerry are land developers who bought the course from its first owner in the early 1990s.
PGA TOUR Americas: Following the completion of the 2023 PGA TOUR Canada season, the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR Canada will merge into a singular Tour to form PGA TOUR Americas, which will begin play in February 2024. PGA TOUR Americas will consist of 16 events contested across Latin America, Canada and the United States, from February through September. The top-10 finishers on the season-long points list will earn Korn Ferry Tour membership for the following season.
Fortinet Cup: The season-long points chase mirrors the competitive structure of the points-based competitions on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Through the sponsorship, the Fortinet Cup offers a $100,000 player bonus pool—with $25,000 to the winner—to the top Fortinet Cup points-winners. The top Fortinet Cup points-earner gains membership to the full 2024 Korn Ferry Tour season, while the second-through-fifth finishers earn conditional 2024 membership. All top-five finishers are also exempt into the final stage of 2023 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament, and those finishing sixth through 25th are exempt into the second stage. In addition, the Fortinet Cup winner will also receive an exemption into the PGA TOUR’s 2023 Fortinet Championship in California. Finally, the top-60 players on the points list will earn membership on the 2024 PGA TOUR Americas through the Latin American swing.