After not playing a round of golf in 2018 and only a few in 2017, Michael Blair now finds himself preparing to play in the 2019 RBC Canadian Open.
What makes this mind-boggling turn of events even more unimaginable is that the 27-year-old lives in Ancaster, just a few minutes from Hamilton Golf & Country Club, so he’ll essentially tee it up in his first-ever PGA Tour event right in his own backyard.
“I graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the spring of 2015 and I have spent the better part of the last four years being injured with a sore shoulder and rotator cuff injuries,” says Blair, who has worked part-time in Ancaster as a Hostess Frito-Lay chip truck delivery driver for the past 18 months.
Although he picked up a business degree at Eastern Michigan University, and had a job lined up with RBC, the title sponsor for the Open, Michael decided to gut it out, get healthy again and give golf another shot this season. After rehabbing for all of 2018, Michael picked up his clubs in January and started working with his coach Nick Starchuk throughout February using an indoor simulator. Then he headed to Fort Myers, Florida in March and April to work on his game and prepare for PGA Tour Canada Q-School. He missed earning a card by sevral shots, so it was back to Ontario and the drawing board.
“I used the money that I saved up working at Frito-Lay to pay for my expenses in Florida, so it’s looking like a good investment at this time,” Michael says. “I probably played five or six rounds in May in Ontario and hit balls a few times leading up to the RBC Canadian Open Regional Qualifier at TPC Toronto on May 16.”
The Nelson High School graduate, who worked at Hidden Lake Golf Club for about 15 years, then went out and shot an 8-under-par 64 at the qualifier, earning a spot in the 2019 RBC Canadian Open – a dream come true.
Blair put together a spectacular round, sinking eagles on two par-fives on the back nine. Coupled with five front-nine birdies, Blair found himself two strokes ahead of the competition at the conclusion of play.
Twenty-one other players advanced to the final Monday, June 3 qualifying round at Heron Point Golf Links including local favourites and long-time HGCC members Chris Ross, who finished T6 at 6-under, and Nicholas Ross, who finished T9 at 3-under. HGCC member, J.J. Reagan missed the cut, finishing T30 at even par.
“I haven’t played in a tournament in two years, so it was nice to put it all together for one round. It should be an incredible week at HGCC. I was there to walk around for a round when the Open was at Hamilton in 2012. I got in for free because I looked so young and they thought I was a junior. This time I’ll be able to drive right into the main parking lot with all the other players – that’s pretty cool,” says Michael, who has been receiving lots of calls from friends looking for tickets. And he hasn’t chosen a caddie yet!