TORONTO - Gerry Dee has a simple goal for this week's Osprey Valley Open: don't embarrass himself.
"I'm going to play as well as I can and see how close I can get to not being last," said Dee, adding with a laugh: "I will be last. I will be dead last. There's no debating that."
The comedian, best known as the lead on CBC's "Mr. D," has an exemption to play in this week's Mackenzie Tour event at TPC Toronto. A long-time fan of the sport who has played in many amateur competitions, Dee harbours no illusions about how he'll do in his first professional tournament.
"I have so much respect for these players, so I just don't want to embarrass myself too badly," said Dee. "I mean, I'll probably embarrass myself relative to what they're used to shooting, but I think they all get that I'm a comedian first and a golfer way down the line."
The 50-year-old Dee has been an avid golfer since he was an adolescent, competing in amateur tournaments and earning a junior sponsorship as a teenager. He played in a Canadian Junior Championship, finishing 49th as a young Mike Weir finished seventh.
Dee is a regular at the National Golf Club of Canada in Woodbridge, Ont., and says his handicap is around a five or a six thanks to the infamously challenging course.
Despite that background, Dee still has some reservations about teeing off against the likes of Hugo Bernard of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Jared du Toit of Kimberley, B.C.
"It's a little different feeling. I can go talk in front of 2000 people and I don't have nerves," said Dee, who will host the game show "Family Feud Canada" on CBC this fall. "There will be no one there to watch me, but enough people will know. A little more nervous than excited right now."
Dee was unsure if he should accept the exemption because he was worried that it might offend some of the golfers on the Mackenzie Tour who are trying to move on to the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour or the PGA Tour. After speaking with some of his professional golfer friends, Dee thought the good for the Mackenzie Tour would outweigh the bad.
"I'm nowhere near these guys, their level," said Dee. "But I'm trying to do this to put some eyeballs on the players, and the sponsorships, and the tournament, and the tour.
"I think that's what we're really trying to achieve here. Whether people agree with the exemption or not, they're curious to see how it goes, which is exactly what we want from this."
PGA TOUR — Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., leads the Canadian contingent at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., and Austin Connelly of Lake Doucette, N.S., are also in the field.
KORN FERRY TOUR — Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., is the top-ranked Canadian at the TPC Colorado Championship in Berthoud. Calgary's Ryan Yip, Toronto's Albin Choi, Calgary's James Love and Ottawa's Brad Fritsch will also tee off.
LPGA TOUR — No. 3 Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., will be one of the top players in the field at the Marathon Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio. Hamilton's Alena Sharp, Calgary's Jaclyn Lee and Quebec City's Anne-Catherine Tanguay are also competing.
SYMETRA TOUR — Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., is the sixth-ranked golfer on the Symetra Tour and will be in the field at this week's Donald Ross Classic in French Lick, Ind. Christina Foster of Concord, Ont., Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., and Elizabeth Tong of Thornhill, Ont., will also play.
John Chidley Hill's weekly golf notebook is published on Wednesdays.
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Note to readers: This is a corrected version of an earlier story. It corrects the spelling of Brad Fritsch's surname.