Fidone runs away with Bayview Place DC Bank Open title

Walking down to the final hole on the final day in the final group is what it’s all about in golf.

“Coming down the 18th to the green, with people lining the fairway, it felt [PGA] Tour-like,” said Sam Fidone.

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That was certainly a moment to savour as Fidone won the Bayview Place DC Bank Open presented by the Times Colonist at Uplands Golf Club to become the 36th champion of the oldest event on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada.

The native of Lufkin, Texas, won going away in carding a 5-under 65 in the fourth round Sunday to win the $36,000 first prize at 19-under-par 261, which was five strokes clear of second-place Blake Sattler of Dover, Ohio.

“We’re all here to get to the next level, which is the Tour, and one day the PGA Tour,” said the 25-year-old Fidone.

That’s the idea.

Since 2013, when the Canadian Tour became the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada, 20 players from the Victoria tournament have gone onto the PGA Tour, including PGA Tour event winners Nick Taylor, Mackenzie Hughes, Tony Finau and Aaron Wise.

Last year’s Victoria winner, Max Rottluff of Dusseldorf, Germany, is now on the Tour. In a bit of added serendipity, Chase Wright, who played last year in the Bayview Place Victoria tournament, won the Tour’s Rust-Oleum tournament on Sunday in Illinois to take another step closer to earning his PGA Tour card. That was not lost on anybody who played at Uplands over the last week.

“I feel I’m on the right trajectory,” said Fidone.

I’m more mature with my decisions now every time I step up to the tee.”

Fidone came out of NCAA Southern Methodist and began his pro quest with two seasons on the PGA Tour Latinamerica, winning the 2016 Honduras Open, before taking medallist honours in the first of five qualifying tournaments this year to earn exemption for the entire 2018 Mackenzie Tour season.

Fidone took a two-shot lead into the final round and steadily increased it throughout Sunday.

“On the 12th is when I knew I had control,” he said

It was one of those days when there was going to be no question about the outcome.

“I woke up in the morning and felt very confident and strong going into the day,” said Fidone.

All that runner-up Sattler could do was sit back and enjoy the Fidone show, like everybody else at Uplands.

“With [Fidone] up six with six-seven holes to go, you knew you were playing for second,” said Sattler, the 34-year-old, who is out there still plugging away on his dreams of the higher levels.

“I had a slow start but I battled over the last 12 holes and put up a good fight to the end.”

Emerging Canadian player Jared du Toit, alone in third and within striking distance at three back after three rounds, had a free-fall Sunday to 23rd spot after carding 5-over 75 to finish at 6-under 274.

“It sucks. It was a tough day, obviously, and not fun at all,” said the 23-year-old from Kimberley.

“I want to remember how this feels so I can avoid feeling like this again.”

He’s going to be a good one, regardless of Sunday’s meltdown.

Last week, at the Golf Canada national training centre on Bear Mountain, du Toit was named to the Team Canada Young Pros squad with Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., the latter who also finished tied for 23rd at Uplands at 274.

The top Canadian was somebody at the other end of the career spectrum. Forty-two-year-old veteran Wes Heffernan of Calgary, who has twice played in the U.S. Open and made the cut in 2011, was tied for sixth place with a four-round total of 11-under 269. The personable Heffernan takes it as it comes these days.

“I’m not full time but still grinding it out,” he said.

“I will definitely play Calgary [ATB Financial Classic in August] and see if there’s a few more in me, also,” he said, of his plans for the rest of the 2018 Mackenzie Tour.

Hefferman’s result was well received at Uplands.

“Victoria has always been a great tournament for me. I’ve been in contention here lots in the past. It’s nice to feel that support.”

Riley Wheeldon of Comox, top Canadian and 10th overall last week in the season-opening tournament at Point Grey, was tied for 37th at 4-under 276. Top amateur was Kevin Carrigan of Royal Colwood, tied for 60th at 1-over 281, which is where host Uplands club-champion Jake DuVall also finished.

The Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada continues with the GolfBC Championship, from Thursday to Sunday at Gallagher’s Canyon in Kelowna.

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