Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open set to welcome top players over weekend

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. PGA Tour Canada Executive Director Scott Pritchard delivers opening comments at the opening ceremonies for the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open on Tuesday at Elk Ridge Resort.

The chase for the Fortinet Cup has brought some of golf’s future stars to Saskatchewan for the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open at Elk Ridge resort this week.

Although the opening round doesn’t tee off until Thursday, opening ceremonies were held on Tuesday at the course that included comments from PGA Tour Canada Executive Director Scott Pritchard and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.

“This tour is about preparing these players to go on to the next level and reach the heights of their fellow Canadians and other PGA Tour players.” Said PGA Tour Canada Executive Director Scott Pritchard during his opening comments at the ceremonies. “I think it should be noted, we’ve got four Canadians (that) have won four events this year on the PGA Tour. That is the most in the history of the PGA Tour. The state of golf in Canada is in a great spot. I don’t think we’d be there without events like this here in Saskatchewan and sponsors that support it.”

The Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open is the second of ten events in the Fortinet Cup schedule. Last week, players competed in the Royal Beach Victoria Open at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria, BC.

Mercier, Quebec’s Étienne Papineau took home his first career PGA Tour Canada victory with a final round score of 64 to finish the week at 18-under par.

Papineau says he is feeling good about his game after winning in Victoria by five strokes but isn’t becoming overconfident.

“It’s definitely a good start. This week is a new week, a new start for me. Last week was great, but this week is a completely different week. It’s a new course, new conditions. It definitely gives me a lot of confidence after a great win last week. So hopefully I can keep going on that that nice run of mine.”

Papineau was halfway into his first round at last year’s Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open before rain led to a cancellation of the event by Tour officials.

Having some form of familiarity with the course, he says the key to success for him at Elk Ridge this week will be finding the fairway off the tee.

“It’s a really good course off the tee. You’ve got to be straight off the tee. You got to be really good at managing your tee shots out here. I think the biggest challenge is off the tee because once you spread it a little bit it’s a hard to get out of the woods.

There will be an international flair to the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open. Many players have traveled across international borders to compete on tour this season and will be playing over the weekend.

Some international players include Nick Cunningham (Bedford, England), Luis Gagne (San Jose, Costa Rica), Alexander Herrmann (Munich, Germany), Genki Okada (Japan) and Gunn Yang (South Korea).

Ryan Danberg, the general manager and managing partner of Elk Ridge Resort says he is looking forward to welcoming players from across the globe to Saskatchewan.

“It’s so cool, the different countries and to hear the whole the different travel schedules and to hear how they got here, and that’s what I admire the PGA Tour golf team for as is the field changes so much in a week-to-week basis. It is unique in the way that there is a lot of a lot of representation from across the world.”

After weather threw a wrench into the plans of the tournament organizers and players last year, Danberg is hopeful this year’s event will showcase all that Elk Ridge has to offer for players.

“Last year, of course, everything before the tournament happened. I was talking with the tour guys earlier this week (and) that was the one of the most challenging weeks they’ve ever had operationally. And same for us. Mother Nature is looking like she’s going to prevail. And I think we’re in for an exciting week.”

During practice rounds so far this weekend, players have been raving about the excellent conditions of the tournament course.

Danberg says players have noticed an improvement from last year’s event.

“I was just talking to Raoul Menard over there who won here our first time, and he’s like, ‘holy smokes. It’s next level from last time.’ I look at that as a testament to our superintendent and it’s just it’s really exciting to see the buzz amongst these players there. They’re quite excited to be here.”

The first tee times of the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open are at 6:30 AM on Thursday morning.