Nate Ollis did it the hard way last year and made it into the Bayview Place DC Bank Open presented by the Times Colonist through the seat-of-the-pants Monday qualifying process.
The Cordova Bay golf pro booked his place with a little more time to spare this year by winning the Bayview Place Performance Tour season standings with the final event of 15 still to be played Friday. The top three overall, and the top club pro, on the Performance Tour earn berths into the Island stop on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada event running May 30 to June 2 at Uplands Golf Club.
Ollis qualified two ways, as top club pro and top overall, leaving three spots still open out of the Performance Tour into the Bayview Place DC Bank Open.
In contention for those remaining three spots heading into the final event at Cordova Bay are Zach Anderson of Nanaimo, Kevin Carrigan of Royal Colwood, Evan Holmes of Shaughnessy, Steven Lecuyer of Bear Mountain and veteran former touring pro Jim Rutledge.
“This has taken the pressure off,” said Ollis.
“It achieves the goal I had set for myself of having a place locked up before the end of the Performance Tour. Monday qualifying is stressful. I’m glad I don’t have to go through that again.”
Steadiness matters in golf and it held Ollis in good stead this season on the Performance Tour.
“I wasn’t spectacular. But I was solid and I kept myself in it each week, and consistency tends to start adding up in golf,” he said.
The 14th of 15th Performance Tour tournaments, held on the soggy Bear Mountain Valley Course on Monday, was a good example as Ollis finished solo second with an even-par 71, behind winner Holmes’ 1-under 70. Lecuyer shot a 72 to finish solo third, which was two shots ahead of the 74 recorded by Gorge Vale’s Isaac Weintraub. Anderson and Rutledge each shot 75s to tie for fifth place.
Now, the already-clinched champion Ollis can enjoy a sort of busman’s holiday on his home course on Friday.
The 25-year-old has experienced both the club and touring aspects of being a golf professional.
“There are many duties as a club pro, such as teaching the game, but you are behind the counter a lot, too,” Ollis added.
“As a touring pro, you are a full-time player. Those guys can play but it’s a tough life.”
The Claremont Secondary graduate, who golfed for the UBC Thunderbirds, tried the latter last year. Ollis went to the European PGA Tour Q-school in England and just missed making it to the second round of the qualifying process. He also played in the highly regarded Vancouver Golf Tour.
“It went well and I learned so much, especially in England, but it was also time to take a step back [into the club pro ranks],” he said.
Ollis missed the cut last year in the Bayview Place DC Bank Open and hopes to take that next step to weekend play this year at Uplands. With the advantage of an athletic, six-foot-three frame, he hasn’t ruled out another shot at the pro touring game in a process where the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada leads to the Web.com Tour, which leads to the PGA Tour.
“It’s a ton of hard work and you need to have every part of yourself into it, physically and mentally,” said Ollis.
“You have to shoot 15 to 20 under to win on the PGA Tour Canada each week. [Lay people] may not realize how well you have to play to do that.”
The winner of the Bayview Place DC Bank Open will earn a berth into the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open the following week in Hamilton.
APPROACH SHOTS: While the pros pursue their dreams at Uplands, a new feature has been added for amateur golfers in this year’s Bayview Place DC Bank Open with the inaugural Capital Iron Million Dollar Hole-in-One Challenge. The first 100 golfers, male or female, who register for $50 this morning at 9 on the Bayview Place DC Bank Open website will be eligible for the cool million. The 100 registrants will compete in a closest-to-the-pin competition May 29 with the closest 20 advancing to another closest-to-the pin competition June 1. The top four from the second round will get a shot at making a hole-in-one on a par-three and winning the million dollars.