Following last week’s Qualifying Tournament near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada moves north in the Sunshine State, to Howey-in-the-Hills and Mission Inn Resort and Club, for the second of seven Qualifying Tournaments. Set for March 2-5, this qualifier will help determine the 2021 membership for the upcoming Mackenzie Tour season. Here are nine players to watch this week at Howey-in-the-Hills.
Hugo Bernard (Canada)
Bernard became well known in Canada after his stirring triumph at the 2016 Canadian Men’s Amateur at The Royal Ottawa Golf and Country Club and Eagle Creek Golf Club. Bernard shot a final-round 65 to outdistance China’s Andy Zhang by two shots and fellow Canadian Stuart Macdonald by three. Bernard is currently a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member. Besides 2020 appearances on that circuit, he also played in the Canada Life Series and the LOCALiQ Series. He previously held Mackenzie Tour membership during his rookie professional season of 2019.
Isidro Benitez (Mexico)
At age 22, Benitez has been playing professional golf since 2017. In just his second season as a professional, Benitez played in 13 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments, making seven cuts and one top-10. That lone high finish was a history-making performance as he became the youngest player in PGA TOUR Latinoamérica history to win when he won the 113th Visa Argentine Open. That victory also earned him an invitation to the following year’s Open Championship.
Blair Bursey (Canada)
Hailing from Newfoundland, Bursey received a scholarship to play golf at Utah Valley University, where he was a three-time, first-team all-conference player. After college, Bursey turned professional and marked 16 top-10 finishes in mini tour events during his first season. In 2020, he finished 14th on the Canada Life Series points list after walking away with two top-10s, coming in the last two events of the season.
Bennett Wisner (U.S.)
In 2019, at this same course, Wisner led at 5-under after 36 holes, eventually finishing second, just one stroke behind the winner and earning his playing privileges. He was the only player in the field to record four under-par rounds and he returns with fond memories of Mission Inn’s El Cameleon Course.
Wei Hsuan Wang (Chinese Taipei)
Wang made a big impact playing on PGA TOUR Series-China in 2019. At age 19 and in only his second career start, the teenager took the 54-hole lead at Qinhuangdao Poly Golf Club and held a one-shot advantage with 18 holes to play. Two late bogeys on the last day, however, led to a fifth-place finish. He went on to close the season with two top-10s and six top-25s.
Velten Meyer (Germany)
Just 21 months after a terrible car crash in China, Meyer continues his professional golf journey this weekend just a short drive from where he lives in Orlando. The former Louisiana-Lafayette golfer, with an incredible story of perseverance and recovery, played in the inaugural LOCALiQ Series in 2020, appearing in eight tournaments, making four cuts and posting one top-10.
Eric Dietrich (U.S.)
Originally from Connecticut, Dietrich went to UConn, where he was co-captain of the Huskies golf team in 2016-2017. He turned pro following that season and played on the 2019 Mackenzie Tour. Dietrich finished that campaign on a high note at the Mackenzie Investments Open. He made six birdies in the final round and shot a 67, his fourth under-par round of the tournament, to tie for seventh with five others.
Luis Gagne (Costa Rica)
Another player who won’t have to travel far this week’s tournament is Gagne. Although originally from Costa Rica, the 23-year-old lives in Orlando and played in the inaugural LOCALiQ Series, appearing in three tournaments and making two cuts. A year earlier, in 2019, after opening with a 2-over 74, he was par or better in each of his final three rounds at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament in Argentina, finishing 24th to earn a conditional status for the first half of that circuit’s season.
Nick Bienz (U.S.)
Bienz, 23, began his pro career in 2019, playing on mini tours in Florida. Born and raised in the Hoosier State, he played golf at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis before moving to Jacksonville, Florida, to pursue his professional golf career. Since turning pro, he has finished with a couple of mini tour top-10s.