The 2011 Canadian Men's Amateur Golf Championship kicks off Thursday at the Niakwa Country Club and Elmhurst Golf and Country Club in Winnipeg. A total of 17 Manitobans are included in the 240 player field. Kane native Tyler Friesen who plays out of the Winkler Centennial Golf Course earned the right to play after finishing in second place in Monday's qualifier.

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Top male amateur golfers from Canada, South Africa, England, Korea, Mexico, Australia, Colombia and the United States will vie for national supremacy at the 107th Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship.

The winner of Canada’s oldest national golf championship will earn exemptions into both the 2012 RBC Canadian Open at the historic Hamilton Golf & Country Club as well as the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wisc. Additionally, the winner is eligible to receive exemptions into the U.S. Amateur Public Links, U.S. Junior Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur & USGA Senior Amateur Championship, if applicable.

The 240-player field is led by defending champion and Team Canada member Albin Choi of Toronto, who posted a four-day tally of 271 at the 2010 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship, matching the all-time 72-hole scoring record established by both Blaine McCallister and Richard Zokol at the 1981 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship in Calgary. Choi, now a sophomore at North Carolina State University, was named the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Freshman of the Year and was also named to both the 2011 All-ACC Team and the 2011 NCAA All-Freshman Team. The 19-year old is ranked 44th on the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), tops amongst Canadians.

Also representing Team Canada’s National Squad are Eugene Wong of North Vancouver, B.C., Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., Mitchell Evanecz of Red Deer, Alta., Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., and Mitch Sutton of London, Ont.

Wong, who captured the 2010 Jack Nicklaus Award as NCAA Division I – Male Golfer of the Year, finished runner-up at last year’s Men’s Amateur while Hughes, a senior at Kent State University, finished T5. Evanecz, who recently competed in his first PGA TOUR event at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open is hoping to improve on his T14 at the 2010 Canadian Men’s Amateur.

The final seven spots in the field were determined at the Canadian Men’s Amateur Qualifier Monday at Niakwa Country Club. Among those earning one of seven qualifier spots was 20-year-old Adrian Kibsey of Winnipeg, who earned medalist honours by posting a score of 3-under par 68, besting qualifiers Tyler Friesen of Kane, Man., and Torrie Coghlin of Saskatoon by two strokes.

A total of 13 Winnipeg natives will compete in the 2011 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship, including, Derek East, who placed third at the 2011 Nott Autocorp Men’s Amateur Championship and Ryan Pitzel, who finished T5. East and Pitzel will compete alongside 16 other Manitoba golfers looking to become the first Manitoba native to win the Canadian Men’s Amateur since Winnipeg’s Rob McMillan won in 1996.

An Inter-provincial Team Championship for the Willingdon Cup will take place in conjunction with the first two rounds with three-member teams competing towards an overall team total. The defending champions from British Columbia captured the province’s 23rd Willingdon Cup title and first since 2004 with a team-total 7-under par 425 to best runner-up Alberta by five strokes.

The Canadian Amateur Championship is open to male amateur golfers who are members of a club belonging to Golf Canada, or clubs in other countries which are in good standing with their respective golf association.

After the first two rounds, the field will be reduced to 70 players and ties for the remaining two rounds finishing Sunday, August 14th at Niakwa Country Club.

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