CRMC Championship presented by Gertens named PGA TOUR Canada’s 2023 Tournament of the Year
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida —Following the conclusion of its 2023 season, PGA TOUR Canada announced Tuesday that the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens is its 2023 Tournament of the Year.
In just its second year on the Tour, the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens, which is played at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, Minnesota, earned Tournament of the Year distinction as organizers created and operated a top-notch event that provided memorable experiences for everybody involved. PGA TOUR Canada’s Tournament of the Year is selected by a combination of player and staff feedback and is based on several criteria including community engagement, charitable contributions and the overall fan, player, sponsor and volunteer experiences.
China’s Yi Cao, who resides in Vancouver, Canada, clinched his first PGA TOUR Canada win at the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens this year, dominating the competition and securing an eight-stroke victory, the largest margin on PGA TOUR Canada this season. Having played several seasons on PGA TOUR Canada, this win catapulted him up the rankings and helped to secure Cao’s first Korn Ferry Tour card for 2024.
“The CRMC Championship is definitely deserving of Tournament of the Year,” Cao said. “All the players love that place just like I do. It was an incredible week, and all the staff, fans and volunteers made it feel like our home away from home. The new front nine was really challenging and you really need to be in good position off the tee. I’ve heard from so many players say that course was a fair test from tee to green and I definitely agree with them.”
The CRMC Championship presented by Gertens was the final full-field event on the 2023 schedule, allowing players this last opportunity to compete before the field was cut to the top-60 players on the points list for the final Fortinet Cup Championship. This year’s tournament at Cragun’s was played entirely on the Dutch Legacy Championship Course, a layout that was redesigned by Minnesota-native and long-time PGA TOUR professional Tom Lehman. The front nine was completely new to the event and players found the par-3s and par-5s playing quite a bit longer and tougher.
At this event last year, Jake Knapp secured a 26-under victory at Cragun’s Legacy Courses and notched his third win on the PGA TOUR Canada with his win in Minnesota. Knapp went on to secure his Korn Ferry Tour card for this season and is currently PGA TOUR bound, finishing 13th on the points list, with 10 top-10 finishes, which tied for the most on the Korn Ferry Tour, this season.
“If I wasn’t back there and able to win that event back in 2022, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now, which is being ready to get myself onto the PGA TOUR next year,” Knapp said. “I’m very appreciative and so proud to be able to call myself a past champion.”
During the past two years, the CRMC Championship provided some exciting finishes for the fans. The final three holes – two reachable par-5s sandwiched around a short par-3 – led to a lot of movement on the leaderboard as players concluded their rounds. Knapp proved to be one of those players who used those final three holes to his advantage, shooting a combined 13-under on Nos. 16, 17 and 18 through the four rounds of tournament play in 2022.
The tournament took advantage of those finishing holes in 2023 to build fan engagement off No. 17 and 18. The activities included a a Brainerd Lakes Chamber Business After Hours event held in a new VIP area on No. 17, the delivery of the Travis Mathew Tour trailer, Eleanor, for the Wednesday Pro-Am, an enhanced kids zone that featured opportunities for kids to get player autographs and wear their favorite hockey jerseys, and a Saturday Night Jam concert followed by fireworks over the 18th green. The extra effort created an incredible atmosphere at the Cragun’s Resort and Legacy Course.
“To see the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens win the award after all the work they put in over the past year is a testament to the host organization and the Brainerd community. Going from a first-year event to winning tournament of the year in their second season on PGA TOUR Canada is no small feat. I’m very happy for them and this is a well-deserved honor,” said Scott Pritchard, PGA TOUR Canada Executive Director.
“One thing that makes this award so significant is that organizers saw this as not only a professional golf tournament, but a community event, and they operated it accordingly,” Pritchard added. “It was a very special week in Northern Minnesota for PGA TOUR Canada, and we couldn’t be prouder to recognize their efforts.”
Beyond the 72-hole tournament, the CRMC Championship also engaged closely with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and its star winger, 22-year-old Matt Boldy. The tournament built excitement by providing Boldy a sponsor exemption. Boldy didn’t make the cut, but made a few crafty saves to keep fans on their feet and several kids following him throughout the tournament and anxiously awaiting his signature. A handful of Boldy’s teammates were also in attendance, including Calen Addison, Mason Shaw and rookies Brock Faber and Sammy Walker.
Another important aspect of this tournament’s success centered around its charitable initiatives. The Cuyuna Regional Medical Center’s (CRMC) Foundation supports three key initiatives – the Courage Cabinet which offers financial assistance to cancer patients; Because of Brandon that provides support to diabetes patients; and Hospice, which supports end-of-life care. The charity also supports the vital needs of the medical campus: including equipment and technology to advance patient care, staff programs, and education that promote the health and well-being of its patients and the people in the area. This year, the tournament was one of the leaders in charitable contributions, providing the CRMC Foundation with $85,000 USD. Event organizers were able to see a 40 percent increase over 2022 by hosting a ‘Cruising for Charity’ excursion on Gull Lake, an ‘Aces over Deuces’ event at the local Gravel Pit Par-3 golf course, as well as a week-long raffle and silent auction benefitting their charity.
“We are humbled, honored, and thrilled to receive this award.” Jack Wawro, the CRMC Championship Tournament Director and Cragun’s Director of Golf said. “This award was a direct result of a tremendous team effort by our volunteers and staff backed by the incredible support from our sponsors and the Brainerd Lakes community. We look forward to keeping this momentum going and building upon our success in 2024 and beyond.”
The 2023 PGA TOUR Canada season was its ninth and final season, ending with the USA’s Hayden Springer walking away with the biggest prizes after winning the Fortinet Cup Championship and securing Player of the Year honors. The PGA TOUR Canada will now merge with the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica to form a singular Tour, PGA TOUR Americas, which will begin play in March 2024. PGA TOUR Americas will consist of 16 events contested across Latin America, Canada and the United States, from March through September, with the top-10 finishers on the season-long points list will earn Korn Ferry Tour membership for the following season.