Golfing greats to play at Bear Mountain for $2.5 million purse

 MARIO ANNICCHIARICO | TIMES COLONIST

MAY 5, 2016 06:01 AM

Veteran golfers such as Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Tom Lehman and Fred Couples could be on their way to Greater Victoria for a PGA Tour Champions stop at Bear Mountain Resort in September.

Originally scheduled for Sept. 23-25 at the 27 Club in Tianjin, China, the Pacific Links China Championship is to be moved due to chemical explosions that struck the region last year and affected its ability to play host.

The prestigious tournament, which features golfing legends age 50 and older, has a purse of $2.5 million US, making it the richest golf event ever for Greater Victoria.

The 2015 tournament was cancelled following explosions in mid-August that killed nearly 200 people and injured hundreds in the port area.

Bear Mountain Golf Resort is a member of Pacific Links International, which operates golf courses internationally and allows its members opportunities to enjoy reciprocal access around the world.

The company is owned by Du Sha, a Canadian citizen and Chinese entrepreneur who lives in Vancouver. That tie is believed to have led to Victoria being picked as the new golf tournament host.

Several sources confirmed Victoria has been selected but asked that they not be named. An official announcement could come was early as today.

“We would not have any comment at this time,” PGA Tour Canada commissioner Jeff Monday said when contacted in Toronto on Wednesday.

Asked about an impending announcement, PGA Tour Champions media official Stewart Moore said: “Possibly, there are still details being sorted out, so I don’t believe anything has been 100 per cent confirmed.”

Moore was in Woodlands, Texas, for the Insperity Invitational tournament where John Daly, who recently turned 50, was making his debut on the seniors’ tour.

The Victoria event would tee it up just three weeks after the tour stops at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club in Calgary for the Shaw Charity Classic.

The tour then moves to Pebble Beach in Monterey, California, for the Nature Valley First Tee Open before moving back north.

It would be the first PGA Tour Champions event to be held in Victoria, but not the first major event for Bear Mountain, which played host to the 2010 Telus World Skins Game that featured Canadian Mike Weir, Couples, Retief Goosen, Ian Poulter and Camilo Villegas. Weir won that event, earning $270,000.

Ecoasis Developments, which operates Bear Mountain Resort, would not comment.

It’s not yet known what the cost for admission will be for the 54-hole event, which includes practice rounds and pro-ams for charity.

mannicchiarico@iimescolonist.com

 © Copyright Times Colonist

– See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/sports/golfing-greats-to-play-at-bear-mountain-for-2-5-million-purse-1.2247369#sthash.w10bwSZM.dpuf