Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele has been spending a lot of time on the greens lately.
Scheifele recently accepted a sponsors exemption to compete at the Players Cup later this month and he’s played quite a few rounds this summer. The Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada event will not only be his professional golf debut but also his first-ever tournament.
“It’ll be fun to play in an actual tournament,” Scheifele said. “I know it’s going to be fun. As long as I don’t have too many bad shots and break a club or something like that.
“I’m a competitor so I’m definitely working at my game hard these next two weeks.”
Scheifele said he loves the game of golf and grew up playing on a small course in Tavistock, Ont. He admitted his putting needs some work but said he usually hits in the low 80s.
Even though he hasn’t played an individual sport competitively since high school, Scheifele has some high expectations for himself.
“My goal is to make the cut,” Scheifele said.
“I’m just hoping to play good golf both days. If that makes the cut, then that makes the cut. The biggest thing for me is to enjoy it too … I get pretty angry sometimes if my game is not going as well as I would like it to go. But I think my goal is to make the cut.”
Originally Jets Captain Blake Wheeler was going to play in the tournament on the sponsors exemption but he is now unable to attend due to personal commitments.
“Wheels is by far better than me,” Scheifele said. “He’s an unbelievable golfer. I think I’m pretty good. I feel like I’m a pretty solid golfer, but he’s special. If he played more, he’s got three little ones and he’s got a lot of commitments with them, so if he were able to play more he could make some waves in the golfing world I’m sure.”
This will be the first Players Cup at the new Southwood Golf and Country Club. A course Scheifele said he has played a bunch of times, but that still won’t calm his nerves.
“I get nervous before every game and obviously playoffs is even more nerve-wracking.” Scheifele said. “But that’s something I do every single day. Shooting the puck, handling a puck, playing in a game, it’s almost instinct.”
“When you get to golf it’s something you do more for fun, it’s a totally different animal when it comes to that. I’m sure I’ll be shaking on that first tee.”
The 156-player field will be competing for a $200,000 purse with round one scheduled for August 16.