Bingham returns, DeLaet wins Skins Game

Brett Bingham participated in the Red Deer Golf and Country Club Skins Game on Tuesday for the first time since 2005.

Brett Bingham of Red Deer hits an iron on the sixth hole at the Red Deer Golf and Country Club during the Skins Game at the club on Tuesday.

Brett Bingham participated in the Red Deer Golf and Country Club Skins Game on Tuesday for the first time since 2005.

He didn’t experience the same success as he did four years ago, when he pocketed a total of $5,600 in skins and bonus cash. Bingham, in fact, was shut out in the five-man competition, but that didn’t put a damper on the fact that he’s back home for good.

“We moved back to Red Deer last week and will be living here full time,” said Bingham, who along with his wife Jamie and infant daughter relocated from Murrieta, Calif., the couple’s home for the past several years. “I got the family back home to our families and I can keep doing what I do.”

What Bingham has done in recent years is play on various professional tours, including the Nationwide and Asian circuits.

He also represents Wolf Creek Golf Resort as a touring pro and will compete in three Canadian Tour events — in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg — and one Nationwide tournament in Ontario over the next four weeks.

“I’ll play on the Canadian Tour and get some exemptions into Nationwide events this summer. Then I’ll get ready for (PGA) tour school in the fall. I’ll be doing the whole thing over again,” he said.

“But I’ll be living here. It’s great for us to get back home although it doesn’t matter where I live; as long as there’s an airport close by you can play anywhere.” Bingham competed mostly on the Asian Tour in 2008, but the experience was anything but positive.

“I just went back and forth. There’s a lot of money on that tour but unfortunately it’s the most disorganized tour, too, “ he said. “I made four trips home between September and December, when I played my last tournament in Indonesia. It just wore me out physically and being 40 hours of flying away from the girls was getting old.”

Bingham wasn’t getting rich, either.

“I made cuts but I didn’t get anything done like I should have,” he said.

Because he hadn’t competed since December, Bingham admitted his ball striking was not up to par heading into the Skins Game.

“I hadn’t played a lot prior to this. Just moving the family here took a lot more time than I thought it would,” he said. “But getting them to Red Deer was the main thing. Now that we’re here I can focus on golf.”

• Meanwhile, defending Skins Game champion Graham DeLaet cleaned up on Tuesday, claiming all $6,750 available in skins with an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole — a 349-yard drive helped him snare the $3,750 up for grabs after an extended series of carry-overs — and a two-foot birdie putt on No. 9 that was worth $3,000.

“I had a good day out there,” said DeLaet, whose performance left Bingham, RDG&CC head pro Ken Frame and fellow Canadian Tour players Mike Mezei and Wes Heffernan with empty pockets. “Actually, we all played pretty well. You just have to make the right putts in the right holes and I was fortunate enough to do that.”

The third-ranked Canadian pro player — behind Mike Weir and Steven Ames — is a big fan of the Skins Game, for reasons that go beyond his two-year earnings of $11,000.

“It’s a lot of fun. The support from the fans and the media is great. It’s a cool atmosphere and hopefully I’ll be back again next year,” said DeLaet.

The Weyburn, Sask., native and resident of Boise, Idaho, will compete in the Canadian Tour’s ATB Financial Classic in Calgary this weekend. As for any momentum he will carry into the event as a result of his success in Red Deer . . .

“Hopefully it works better for me than it did last year when I missed the cut in Calgary right after this (Skins Game),” he said with a chuckle. “But I’ve been playing well and I expect to make the cut this week, for sure.”

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