Evan Holmes charges to Canada Life lead at Bear Mountain

 

A towering eight-under score of 63 by Evan Holmes shook Bear Mountain to its core Monday. The former UBC Thunderbirds player from Calgary took a three-shot lead in the first round of the Canada Life pro tournament on the mountain course.

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“It’s a good test of golf. But if you can keep the ball on the fairway up here, you will be OK, so that was the game plan,” said the 2016 Alberta Amateur champion.

To say he executed the plan is the understatement of the tournament so far.

“Everything came together in this round for me,” said Holmes.

Meanwhile, the Boomtown Rats sang about not liking Mondays. But they have been good to Lawren Rowe. The former University of Victoria Vikes player shot a bogey-free back nine for a first-round score of five-under 66 and was in second place. The NAIA first- and second-team All-America selection in 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively, turned pro with the Canadian golf class of 2018 that included Holmes.

The Mount Douglas Secondary graduate Rowe’s first big gig as a pro was advancing through — that day again —Monday qualifying for the 2019 DC Bank Victoria Open presented by the Times Colonist. Holmes was top-25 in the Victoria Open last year at Uplands.

But the Victoria Open — which has been a Tour fixture since 1981 and has featured future PGA Tour players from Steve Stricker to Tony Finau — was a casualty of this year’s cancelled Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada season due to the pandemic.

The Canada Life series is a consolation for those Canadian pro golfers who missed out on the scrubbed 2020 Mackenzie Tour. This week’s tournament on the mountain course — Round 2 is today and the final round Wednesday — is the first of two 54-hole events at Bear Mountain. The second tournament is on the valley course next Monday through Wednesday. Both events feature purses of $50,000 and both filled up fast with lengthy waiting lists. The Canada Life Series concludes Sept. 2-4 and Sept. 9-11 at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley. The series champion over the four tournaments will earn a berth into the 2021 RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s in Toronto.

Chris Crisologo, meanwhile, showed why he was low amateur in the 2018 RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey and is now a part of Golf Canada’s young pro national team roster after two years on the national amateur team with wins at the 2018 and 2019 South American Amateur. The emerging pro from Richmond was tied for third at 67 along with Drew Nesbitt of Shanty Bay, Ont.

The Canada Life Series is adhering to the safety guidelines being practised elsewhere in golf’s reopening. Spectators are not allowed for the two Bear Mountain tournaments. There are no caddies and a bare number of volunteers allowed on the Bear.

The Canada Life tournaments have been put together by the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada, which is the launching pad to the Korn Ferry Tour, which in turn is the entry portal to the PGA Tour. The Mackenzie Tour’s alumni includes 41 PGA Tour players and 232 Korn Ferry Tour players produced since 2013.

It is the first pro tournament played on Bear Mountain since the mountain course hosted PGA Tour Champions’ events in 2016 and 2017. The $2.5-million Pacific Links tournaments featured former PGA and European stars and current seniors such as Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Bernhard Langer and Vijay Singh.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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