HomeCelebrityAfter 11-year wait, Calgary’s Wes Heffernan pumped for another start on PGA...

After 11-year wait, Calgary’s Wes Heffernan pumped for another start on PGA Tour

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Wes Heffernan’s favourite team has been eliminated from Stanley Cup contention.

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That might not stop this proud Calgarian from showing his love for the Flames on the rink hole at the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open, where the ropes are replaced by boards and you’ll sometimes see the stars don a hockey sweater for their stroll from tee to green.

“Maybe I’ll wear an Avalanche jersey,” he quipped, taking a shot at the arch-rival Edmonton Oilers.

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While he won’t be seeing a Stanley Cup parade in his home city this spring, another sort of waiting game ends this week for Heffernan.

The local birdie-machine scored an exemption to tee it up in the 2022 RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto. It’ll mark his ninth appearance on the PGA Tour, but his first since the 2011 U.S. Open.

Back then, Heffernan was a frequent contender on the original Canadian Tour. Now 45, he’s working as a full-time teaching professional, balancing his duties as a father of two with a busy slate of lessons at Dynamic Motion Golf Performance — a facility he owns with his wife Shannon — and competing primarily against his pals on the PGA of Alberta circuit.

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“My last few Canadian Opens, it’s when I was younger and I was playing well, so you’re in that mindset of ‘I’m just going to keep playing well and hopefully I’m going to get out here full-time,’ ” Heffernan said. “And then I started to struggle and all of a sudden, it’s 11 years later and I haven’t played one since. So I’m definitely not going to take this one for granted.”

The 2022 RBC Canadian Open will feature an impressive field, including five of the top 10 in the world — Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Sam Burns.

Those guys play five or six rounds a week. They practise for hours on end.

And Heffernan?

His lone tournament so far this season was the PGA of Alberta’s one-day shootout at Belvedere in Sherwood Park. He’s been able to sneak out for a total of seven rounds since the snow melted — and none with the sort of gnarly rough or lightning-fast greens that you find on the PGA Tour.

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So while his waiting game is over, this week could bring a bit of a guessing game.

“For me, it’s just show up, have a lot of fun and hopefully something is there,” said Heffernan, who will be one of 21 Canucks in action at St George’s. “Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. The good thing, though, is I would say my game is the best it’s ever been. It’s just that I don’t get a chance to ever get it in peak form. It’s encouraging in the sense that it might be there. But I just don’t know how I’m going to react in that situation because I haven’t been there for 11 years.

“I know if I play my absolute best, I can play well. It’s just that I don’t know how to find that when you haven’t been playing week in and week out.”

Especially since sorting out those swing struggles from several years back, Heffernan has shown a knack for making the most of his opportunities.

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He earned this exemption thanks to his perch atop the PGA of Canada’s player rankings, an indication of his strong and consistent performances against his fellow club and teaching pros.

Last September, he nearly won the PGA Tour Canada’s ATB Financial Classic at Country Hills Golf Club in his hometown, finishing as runner-up to Jared du Toit.

His biggest key to success this week at St. George’s will be finding some immediate comfort with his touch on and around the greens. Whether it’s on the rink hole — the boards are up at No. 16, a 204-yard Par-3 — or any other assignment, you don’t want to do too much stickhandling on the PGA Tour.

“With our facility, I think one of the reasons I feel like my game is the best it’s ever been is that we have an indoor place where between lessons or on off-time, I can practise as much as I want. So my ball-striking is always great,” Heffernan said. “It’s just you can’t practise that short-game stuff indoors, really. The challenge with being in June is despite the fact that courses here are in great shape this year, just the speed when you show up to St. George’s … As long as it’s not raining, it will be firm and fast, and that’s just not something I’ve chipped on for eight months.

“It’s something you have to dial in very quick.”



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