Over the last three days the Great Lakes Tour held their flagship event – the Southern Ontario Open – along Canada’s “south coast” in Port Dover, Ontario. The event presented by the Great Lakes Tour took place at Port Dover Golf Club (formerly Lynn Meadows Golf Club), a classic parkland-style golf course. The golf course itself measuring at just under 6,600 yards.
The Great Lakes Tour presented by GolfZoogle.com was founded in 2001 and is one of several developmental tours in Canada that have become a vital proving ground for aspiring Canadian golf professionals. Thus far, the Great Lakes Tour have had 67 of their past members have at least one start on the PGA TOUR. Members of the Great Lakes Tour includes golfers with status or partial status on PGA TOUR Canada, formerly The Mackenzie Tour.
The 54-hole event attracted professional and amateur golfers from all over Ontario, all with hopes of claiming the $8,000 CAD first place prize money. Also on the line were exemptions for the upcoming Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Ontario Open (PGA TOUR Canada) and exemptions into the Canada Cup (Coupe Canada), an event to be held in Victoriaville, PQ taking place August 11th – 14th.
The field of the 2022 Southern Ontario Open featured golfers like Cougar Collins (the 2020 Ontario Amateur Champion), the current leader of the Great Lakes Tour Order of Merit (Marc Casullo), journeyman professional Derek Gillespie, PGA TOUR Canada member Jake Scott, the winner of last week’s GLT Niagara Open (Austin Ryan), and PGA TOUR Canada member and eventual winner of the 2022 Southern Ontario Open Michael Blair.
An intriguing leaderboard to begin the day had all of the elements needed to make for an entertaining and dramatic final round.
Entering the final round, Michael Blair led the way at -13 with a number of players right on his heels or within striking distance. During the final round the wind would play a significant role. For the first time during the week, the winds were blowing out of the south coming off of nearby Lake Erie. When asked, players like Blair Hamilton, Freddy D’Angelo, and Andrew Ximenes stated that the wind change made a difference in their approach to the final round and the strategy that they’d employ. Moreover, the winds made an already firm and fast golf course that much quicker.
The low round of the day belonged to eventual runner-up Jacob Lehman from Guelph, Ontario who fired an -7 (64) while Jake McNulty (Paris, ON) , made the most of his day. McNulty was the first player to tee-off during the final round and an impressive -6 (65) catapulted him all of the way into 11th place. On a day full of highlights, Trevor Corner (Mississauga, Ontario) made his first career albatross on the Par 5 17th hole.
A tight leaderboard consisting of Michael Blair, Cougar Collins, and Jacob Lehman would eventually lead to a 3-man sudden death playoff. The players made their way back out to the 18th tee for the first playoff hole and all selected driver electing to cut the corner of the dogleg Par 4 hole to reach the green in one. Michael Blair was the last to tee off of the first playoff hole. With all three player’s up around or on the green the stage was set. It was now Michael Blair’s time to write some history and he was the last to tee-off on the first playoff hole.
From 63 feet away and just off of the green Michael Blair struck his putt. As his golf ball scooted across the green and then down a slope several feet away from the hole, Blair watched his golf ball break ever-so-slightly to the right and fall in for the eagle. Consequently, both Jacob Lehman and Cougar Collins missed their respective attempts for equalizing eagle’s.
With the Southern Ontario Open reaching its stunning conclusion when asked about the winning putt Blair had this to say. “When my golf ball got to within three feet of the hole, I knew that it was going to fall”. Blair would continue on saying that in that moment in time he felt like he was “going to blackout”. Michael Blair will now turn his focus towards PGA TOUR Canada, beginning with next weeks Osprey Valley Open located at TPC Toronto Osprey Valley in Caledon, Ontario. Moving beyond that Michael Blair also has his sights squarely set on the Korn Ferry Tour.
When asked how he was going to celebrate his victory Blair stated that he would be “Stopping for a milkshake on the way home, because I feel like I earned it”. Enjoy the milkshake Michael.
* If interested, you can catch all of the action from the 2022 Southern Ontario Open by visiting YouTube. The event was live-streamed by GolfZoogle.com.