It’s not the sun that has been scorching the Island the past week. It’s been Zach Bauchou.
If you win a national open title in golf once, people can call it a fluke. Not if you do it twice consecutively. Then it becomes a pattern.
American Bauchou, heading into his senior year with NCAA champion Oklahoma State, successfully defended his Canadian men’s amateur open title at Duncan Meadows with a five-under-par final round of 65 for a four-round total of 18-under 266.
The last golfer to achieve Canadian amateur back-to-back championships was Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, now on the PGA Tour, in 2011 and 2012. That is heady company. So the inevitable question came up of when Bauchou will make his much-anticipated jump to pro golf.
“I’m not sure yet,” he replied.
“I will finish off at Oklahoma State. We’re defending NCAA champions and we’re looking to tear it up again.”
Bauchou will not soon forget his week on the Island, as the 2018 Canadian amateur entailed rounds at Duncan Meadows and Pheasant Glen in Qualicum Beach.
“It is beautiful,” Bauchou said.
He said he was surprised to see people picking berries off bushes and eating them while he was on the course. Then he did the same.
Whatever his fuel, it worked. Again.
“Words can’t express what it means to me to defend this title and win it again,” he said.
Because of his 2017 Canadian amateur win, Bauchou got to play in the recent RBC Canadian Open against the PGA Tour pros.
“It was a good experience,” said the native of Forest, Virginia.
“You just want to keep getting better and better. That’s what golf is all about, whether it’s in amateur, college or on the PGA Tour.”
Bauchou’s repeat Canadian amateur win gives him a place in the 2019 RBC Canadian Open next June in Hamilton, Ont. His Oklahoma State NCAA career will be done in the spring, so he might be competing for pro money by then.
Meanwhile, Bauchou was three strokes clear of second-place Philip Knowles of Jacksonville, Florida. Third overall and top Canadian was NHL referee Garrett Rank from Elmira, Ont., at 13-under 271.
Top British Columbian was Henry Lee of Coquitlam, tied for ninth at 278.
Tristan Mandur, who lives five minutes from Duncan Meadows, was tied for 28th as the top Islander at one-under 279.
“It was cool to sleep in a bit more,” Mandur joked.
“It was awesome to have the local support. It was a good adrenalin rush,” the graduate of Shawnigan Lake School said.
“You always want to do better, but it was a fun four days. I shot 46 consecutive holes of par or better, which is a personal best, so I’ll learn from this and move on.”
Mandur is entering his sophomore season in the NCAA Pac-12 with the University of Utah Utes.
“Pro golf is definitely in the plans, but I’ll see how I do over the next three years,” he said.
“If I perform, I’ll definitely give it [pro golf] a shot.”
Mandur is part of a group of emerging Islanders who played the Canadian amateur.
It includes Spectrum-grad Keaton Gudz of Victoria, with the Pac-12 Oregon State Beavers, and Nolan Thoroughgood of Royal Colwood, who is centralized on Bear Mountain with the Golf Canada national U-19 development team. The trio combined for the silver medal last summer with Team B.C. at the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
“There’s a younger group coming up after us, too,” Mandur said. “It’s because of the coaching, courses and weather on the Island.”
Of the four other Islanders who made the cut, Todd Bissenden of Chemainus and Jake Lane of Qualicum Beach tied for 41st at 285. Lawren Rowe of Victoria and Josh Miller of Royal Colwood were tied for 48th at 286.
Meanwhile, Quebec successfully defended its Willingdon Cup national team championship. Alberta was second and the B.C. team of Kevin Carrigan of Royal Colwood, Caleb Gorbahn from Smithers and Chris Crisologo of Richmond was third.