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Ernie Els is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the game, having won 70 tournaments since turning professional in 1989, including three Major Championships, two World Golf Championships and a record seven World Matchplay titles.
Born in South Africa, Els was an outstanding natural athlete, excelling in rugby and tennis and started playing golf at the age of 9. By 14, he had won his first world junior golf championship, beating Phil Mickelson by several strokes. Soon after turning pro, Els won the South African Open, along with the South African PGA and Masters tournaments. He won his first big PGA Tour event in 1994, taking the U.S. Open in a three-man playoff that lasted 20 holes.
Els has enjoyed success on the golf course, splitting his time between the U.S. and European tours. Having triumphed in tournaments all over the world - in Africa, Europe, the United States, Asia, the Far East, the Middle East and Australasia, he is considered one of the most prolific golfers of his generation. In 2010, he was elected to join the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Focused on raising money for charity, each year Els hosts the Ernie Els Invitational in South Africa, with proceeds going to help disadvantaged children. In 2009, he and his wife Liezl established the Els for Autism Foundation to fund the Els Center of Excellence and help children with autism, like their son Ben.
Winner of the 2013 RBC Heritage, Graeme McDowell looks to continue his great play in 2014.
Graeme McDowell, commonly known as “G-Mac”, was born in a small quiet town on the North Coast of Ireland called Portrush. The middle child of three brothers, Graeme picked up a golf club for the first time aged seven, when his dad would take him and younger brother to the local pitch-and-putt course. By the age of ten, they joined Rathmore, a golf club which shares the world-famous links of Royal Portrush, where he honed his skills.
As an amateur, McDowell played a prominent role in Great Britain and Ireland’s retention of the Walker Cup in 2001 and while studying at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2002, he was ranked #1 Collegiate Golfer in the United States and won six events with a stroke average of 69.6, beating the previous best held by Luke Donald and Tiger Woods.
McDowell turned professional in 2002 and won that season's Volvo Scandinavian Masters, only his fourth start on the European Tour. In 2004, he claimed the Telecom Italia Open, and finished sixth on the European Tour’s Order of Merit.
In 2010, McDowell claimed his first Major title winning the U.S. Open, ending a 40 year wait for a European winner. In addition, he secured the winning point to take the 2010 Ryder Cup for Europe, was named European Tour Golfer of the Year and beat tournament host Tiger Woods at the World Challenge at the Sherwood Country Club. Two years later, McDowell would secure his next tournament victory, when he returned to Sherwood to take the World Challenge. He was also part of the 2012 European Ryder Cup team that won the ‘Miracle at Medinah, defeating the American team after an incredible Sunday singles comeback.
McDowell had a stellar 2013 with three victories including the RBC Heritage, once again cementing himself among the top of the Official World Golf Rankings.
One of the PGA TOUR's hottest players, Brandt Snedeker has made his mark on the game with early success and unmatched focus.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1980, Brandt Snedeker was introduced to golf by his maternal grandmother, who managed a golf course. He won the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links before turning professional in 2004.
Playing on the Nationwide Tour from 2004 to 2006, he won two tournaments and finished 9th on the money list to earn his PGA Tour spot for 2007. In 2007, Snedeker racked up six Top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, including a win at The Wyndham Championships and was voted Rookie of the Year by his peers, with his earnings total of $2.8 million the largest ever by a rookie. Snedeker had five Top-10 finishes in 2008, including third at the Masters and finishing 9th at the U.S. Open. He was also selected to the World Cup team with fellow American Ben Curtis. In 2011, Snedeker finished with seven Top-10 finishes, $3.6 million in earnings and captured his second PGA Tour victory at The RBC Heritage, with a playoff win over #1 world ranked Luke Donald.
In 2012, Snedeker won the final tournament of the year, The Tour Championship, which crowned him The FedEx Cup Champion, earning the coveted $10 million prize. Even though he was plagued by injuries in 2013, Brandt still managed to win twice including the RBC Canadian Open and finished 12th in the FedEX Cup standings. He is looking forward to a healthy and successful season in 2014.
One of the PGA TOUR's biggest rising stars, Canadian Graham DeLaet enjoyed a breakout season in 2013.
Born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Graham DeLaet honed his golf skills while playing on the Canadian development team. His breakout year was in 2007 when he played in his first Canadian Open, made 11 of 14 cuts with seven top-ten finishes in his rookie season on the Canadian Tour and advanced to the second stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying School. Named the 2009 Rolex Player of the Year, DeLaet won several tournaments including the 2009 Canadian Tour Players Cup, the 2009 ATB Financial Classic, 2009 BMG Classic on South African Sunshine Tour, and 2009 World Cup Qualifier. Obtaining his PGA Tour card in 2010, he had three Top 10 finishes tying for third at the Shell Houston Open, fifth at the Viking Classic, and sixth at Frys.com Open and won more than $950,000. Having secured his PGA Tour card for 2011, DeLaet elected to have surgery in January 2011 for a herniated disc and played only two PGA Tour events. But hard work and patience paid off as DeLaet returned to the Tour in 2012 putting together a very strong bounce back season that included topping the $1 million mark on the PGA Tour money list for the first time in his young career.
DeLaet is currently one of the PGA's biggest rising stars after a breakout season in 2013, He made 21 of 26 cuts and posted 12 Top-25 finishes. He finished eighth in the FedEx Cup Standings and 21st on the PGA Tour money list (over $2.8 million). He ranked first on Tour in total driving, third in greens in regulation and 21st in scoring average. He also qualified for the International Team at The Presidents Cup, and was one of the team's best players. DeLaet's record was an impressive 3-1-1 as he holed out on the 18th twice on Sunday including a bunker shot in his final match against fellow rookie star Jordan Spieth to win 1-up.
In 2014, DeLaet will play in his first Masters and has his sights on his first PGA TOUR victory.
As one of the top European golfers, Luke Donald continues to perform strongly and is a regular fixture among the top of the World Rankings.
Born in Hemel Hempstead, England, Luke Donald played golf with his brother, winning club championships, school titles and international junior amateur tournaments. Crossing the pond to attend Northwestern University on a golf scholarship, Donald won the individual NCAA Division I Men’s Golf championships men’s title in 1999, beating the scoring record formerly held by Tiger Woods.
Donald turned professional in 2001 and the following year, won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic - becoming only the 11th rookie in PGA Tour history to earn more than $1 million in his first season. In 2004, he won the Omega European Masters and the Scandinavian Masters on the European Tour as well as being a member of the victorious European Ryder Cup team. By early 2005, he was in the top twenty of the Official World Golf Rankings and his win at the 2006 Honda Classic moved him into the top ten for the first time. Reaching a career high ranking of 6, 2010 was a big year for Donald, during which he won the Madrid Masters, came second at the BMW Championship, Tour Championships, the Northern Trust Open and placed in the top 10 at the Verizon Heritage, Transitions Championship and the World Golf Championships. He was also a member of the European team that won the 2010 Ryder Cup with a one point win over the U.S.. Donald was the No. 1 money winner on the PGA Tour in 2011 with nearly $6.8 million in earnings and earned top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings. With another strong season in 2012, including a victory at the Transitions Championship, he spent a total of 56 weeks as the World’s Number One golfer during a back and forth battle with friend Rory McIlroy. Donald looks to get back into the Top–10 in 2014.
With a longstanding interest in art, Donald is an artist and enjoys painting and drawing when not on tour. He offered one of his paintings to the PGATour.com auction and donated the proceeds to charity.
Inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, Mike Weir is a Canadian golf icon winning eight pro titles, including the 2003 Masters.
Born in Brights Grove, Ontario, Mike Weir had his first PGA Tour win at the 1999 Air Canada Championship in Surrey, British Columbia. That victory made him the first Canadian to win a PGA Tour event in Canada in 45 years and since then, he’s gone on to take eight professional victories including the 2003 Masters. In 2007, he had the whole country cheering as he took down Tiger Woods at the Presidents Cup to win the tournament.
Weir is a three-time recipient (2000, 2001 and 2003) of the Lionel Conacher Award, given to Canada's Male Athlete of the Year and the first golfer to be honoured since 1932. He received the Order of Ontario in 2003 and the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour in 2007. Most recently, he was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame.
Using his success as a professional golfer as a platform to help families in need, he created the Mike Weir Foundation in 2004. In 2009, the Mike Weir Foundation was named as the national charity beneficiary of the RBC Canadian Open. As a result, Weir hosted the inaugural Mike Weir Charity Classic – a high-profile fundraiser featuring marquee celebrities and PGA Tour stars. This event aligns with RBC’s support of children’s wellness, with proceeds benefiting charities that assist in the physical, emotional and educational welfare of children across Canada. Married to wife Bricia, they have two daughters, Elle and Lili.
With four PGA victories, Stephen Ames has also made an impact outside of golf in Canada and in Trinidad and Tobago.
Born in Trinidad, Stephen Ames is the first touring professional to emerge from Trinidad and Tobago. After marrying a Canadian, wife Jodi in 1991, Ames officially took up Canadian citizenship in 2003 and has proudly called Canada his home for nearly 20 years. They reside in Calgary with their two sons, Justin and Ryan.
Ames won his first professional tournament in the United States – the Pensacola Open – in 1991 on the Ben Hogan Tour (now called the Nationwide Tour). From there, he played on the European Tour for five seasons before becoming a full member of the PGA Tour in 1997. He has won three PGA Tour victories which include the 2004 Cialis Western Open, the 2006 Players Championship and the 2007 Children’s Miracle Network Classic.
In 2005, Ames, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Golf Association, initiated an international competition called the Stephen Ames Cup. Alternating venues between Trinidad and Canada each year, male and female junior golfers from the CJGA’s Team Canada compete against Team Trinidad & Tobago in a Ryder Cup style competition for the Stephen Ames Cup. He also started the Stephen Ames Foundation, which provides funding for junior golf programs and other children’s initiatives in Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. RBC is the presenting partner of the Stephen Ames Cup.
Considered one of the most successful women golfers, Morgan Pressel has won three LPGA tournaments since turning pro in 2006.
Born in Tampa, Florida, Morgan Pressel grew up in Boca Raton playing golf and enjoyed success early on winning 11 amateur junior tournaments. Considered her coming out year in 2005, Pressel played in six LPGA events as a sponsor exemption and never finished below 25th. She won the U.S. Women's Amateur, earned AJGA Player of the Year award and capped off her well-decorated amateur career with a runner-up finish at the 2005 U.S. Women's Open. Graduating high school in 2006, she gave up her amateur status to play professionally after finishing sixth in the LPGA qualifying tournament to earn her Tour card.
In early 2007, she won her first LPGA major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and became the youngest woman golfer in history to win an LPGA tournament. She won the 2008 Kapalua Classic in Hawaii, claiming her second title. In 2009, Pressel tied for second at the CN Canadian Women's Open, qualified for her second consecutive U.S. Solheim Cup Team and was the youngest player to automatically qualify for the squad at the age of 21. In 2010, Pressel won the World Ladies Championship Salonpas Cup in Japan and made the cut in 15 of her tour starts.
Known for his unorthodox swing, Jim Furyk is one of the ‘nice guys’ in golf, winning 16 tournaments on the PGA Tour, including one major championship.
Furyk started playing golf at the age of 12 and learned his unconventional, looping swing from his father, who has been his only swing instructor. After winning the Pennsylvania state golf title in high school, Furyk turned pro in 1992 and played on the Nationwide Tour. He earned his Tour card the following year and had his first PGA Tour victory in 1995 at the Las Vegas Invitational. Playing consistently over the next several years, Furyk won his first major, the 2003 U.S. Open, where he set numerous scoring records.
Having a stellar 2006 season, Furyk won two tournaments, posted 14 Top 10 finishes and took home the Vardon Trophy. However, he topped it in 2010, with the first three-win season of his career, winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup Championship. He was also named the PGA Player of the Year, the PGA Tour player of the year and is currently fourth in all-time career earnings on Tour. In 2013, Furyk continued to prove why he is a future member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, posting seven Top-10 finishes including a dramatic second place result at the PGA Championship. He also became only the sixth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59 – which he recorded during the second round of the 2013 BMW Championship.
Ranked a career-high #4 in the Official World Golf Rankings in 2013, Matt Kuchar has cemented himself as one of the sport's top competitors.
Prior to turning pro in 2000, Kuchar graduated from Georgia Tech, where he was a two-time, first-team All-American golfer. The U.S. Amateur Champion in 1997, he received the 1998 Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate golfer and was the low amateur at both The Masters and U.S. Open in 1998.
His breakout season was in 2010 where he finished with more top-10 finishes (11) than any other golfer and earned his first Ryder Cup selection. He also earned numerous accolades, including the Vardon Trophy and Byron Nelson Award for lowest scoring average as well as the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Award for leading the money list.
Kuchar's most momentous victory came in 2012 when he triumphed at The Players Championship. That same year he also tied for third at the Masters, tied for ninth at the Open Championship, qualified to play for the United States Ryder Cup team and finished with nine top-10s on the PGA Tour.
He continued his success in 2013, winning the WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship as well as The Memorial Tournament. He was also a member of the victorious Team USA squad in the 2013 Presidents Cup.
A native of Winter Park, Fla., he currently resides in Sea Island, Ga., with his wife and two sons.
As one of the world’s best golfers, Hunter Mahan eyes his first Major Championship in 2014.
Born in Orange, California, Hunter Mahan grew up in Texas, where he excelled in golf during his high school years at McKinney High. In his senior year, Mahan won the 1999 Texas Division 5A High School Championships and the USGA Junior Championship, enrolling at USC as the top ranked junior golfer in the country. Over the next three years, Mahan continued to shine winning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, a two-time Big-12 Player of the Year, a two-time 1st team All-American, and a two-time member of the Palmer Cup Team. In 2003, he won the Jack Nicklaus Award, the Fred Haskins Award, and co-recipient of the Ben Hogan Award, making him the number one amateur in the Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings.
Turning pro in 2004, he was the second youngest player on Tour at the age of 21. Mahan had a successful rookie season with three top-10 finishes. In 2007, he had his first PGA victory – the Travelers Championship and six Top-10 finishes. After doing so well, he was selected by President’s Cup team captain Jack Nicklaus to participate on the U.S. team where he finished with a 2-3-0 record.
Mahan continued his streak in 2008 and 2009, with twelve Top-10 finishes and a thrilling Ryder Cup win as the U.S. team beat the heavily favoured European team by five points. In 2010, he won the Waste Management Phoenix Open as well as the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational. His consistent play and timely wins helped him land a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team for the second straight time. In 2012, Mahan found victory at the WGC- Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson, Arizona and at the 2012 Shell Houston Open, his fifth and sixth career PGA Tour wins. These victories took him to 4th in the Official World Golf Rankings, making him the highest ranked American in golf last year. Mahan finished the year with an impressive twelve Top-25 finishes and over $4 million in earnings.
Hunter also had an impressive 2013 season with Top-10 finishes in both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship. Mahan withdrew from the RBC Canadian Open before the third round after receiving news that his wife had gone into labor. Mahan was the 36-hole leader at that point, taking a two-stroke advantage into the third round. His daughter, Zoe, was born early the next morning.
Despite growing up near the Great One, David Hearn returns to the PGA Tour in 2014.
Despite growing up five blocks away from Wayne Gretzky's childhood home in Brantford, Ontario, David Hearn developed a passion for golf. At the age of 10, Hearn won his first tournament, competing at the United Commercial Travelers 11-and-under championship. Participating in both the Ontario and Canadian Junior Championships in his early years, he helped lead the Canadian Team to victory at the Four Nations Cup in 2001. In 2002, he was named the Canadian Tour Rookie of the Year, along with three Top Five finishes on the Canadian Tour. Hearn won the 2004 Alberta Classic on the Nationwide Tour and the 2004 Times-Colonist Open on the Canadian Tour, to make Q-School and earn his PGA Tour card. Since securing his PGA Tour card in 2005, he has played on the Nationwide Tour, placing second at the TPC Stonebrae, and has 22 Top 10 finishes. In 2010, Hearn posted five Top-10 finishes and followed it up in 2011 with three more strong results, including a 6th place finish at the Houston Open. Hearn was named SCOREGolf’s 2011 Canadian Male Pro Golfer of the year.
In 2013, Hearn continued his strong play with seven Top-25 results and over $1 million in earnings, positioning him in 53rd place in the FedEx Cup Standings.
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