Island contingent takes aim at COVID-shortened B.C. Men's Amateur

With so many sports championships not awarded this year — from the Memorial to the Mann cups — it is perhaps an encouraging sign that there will be no gap in the history books for 2020 regarding the B.C. men’s amateur golf championship.

The 118th edition continues uninterrupted beginning today at the Okanagan Club Bear Course in Kelowna. The provincial mid-amateur championship is also part of the event.

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It won’t, however, be business as usual. The B.C. Amateur has been reduced to 54 holes from 72 and there will be no caddies or spectators. The 156-player field will follow COVID-19 guidelines all golfers have become familiar with by now.

“These are unprecedented times,” said Kevin Carrigan of Royal Colwood, who was third at the B.C. Amateur in both 2017 and 2018.

“But I always leave the pin in place anyways, even in normal circumstances to save time, and we will be allowed to take rakes that clip on to your bag.”

The shortened B.C. Amateur tournament changes the complexion of the competition.

“The older you get, the better 54 holes looks to you,” quipped the 34-year-old Carrigan.

“But it changes the mentality of the tournament. That one less round is huge in how you approach the game. You’ve got to be ready to go from the first tee ball. There is no time for getting your feet wet.”

Rustiness will be the biggest issue.

“I’ve been playing lots, but not a ton competitively, obviously,” said Carrigan, who played NCAA at Texas-Arlington and in two RBC Canadian Opens as an amateur.

Island players have been major factors in the B.C. Amateur championships, including providing three of the past four champions with Jackson Rothwell of Victoria Golf Club winning last year at Big Sky in Pemberton, Jake DuVall of Uplands in 2017 at Morgan Creek in Surrey and Nolan Thoroughgood of Royal Colwood and the NCAA Pac-12 Oregon State Beavers in 2016 at Pheasant Glen in Qualicum Beach. Thoroughgood was only 15 at the time when he became the youngest player to win the B.C. Amateur.

Carrigan, meanwhile, was third and Scott Kral and Tristan Mandur of Mill Bay and the Pac-12 University of Utah Utes top-10 in 2018 at Rivershore in Kamloops and Carrigan third behind DuVall in 2017 at Morgan Creek. Zach Anderson of Nanaimo was third in 2016 and Keaton Gudz of Royal Colwood and the Oregon State Beavers fourth in 2015.

“The Island is a hotbed of golf because there are so many tournaments and the season is longer,” said Carrigan.

“That creates a real competitiveness and camaraderie on the Island.”

There is, however, an age gap between the older Island group led by the likes of Carrigan and the NCAA group of Thoroughgood, former B.C. junior champions Mandur and Gudz and rising teen prodigy Jeevan Sihota.

“I remember being their age and mentored by the likes of Craig Doell and Brent Wilson and I want to provide that same sort of mentorship to the younger guys,” said Carrigan, who is a financial planner.

Contending this week at the B.C. Amateur will be the usual strong Island contingent that will include Carrigan, Mandur, Rothwell, Thoroughgood and Sihota.

Defending champion Rothwell will be looking for a repeat lifting of the Bostock Cup, won 13 times previously by Doug Roxburgh, four times by James Lepp, twice by A.V. Macan and by Fred Couples in 1979 and Islanders such as Bryan Toth in 2006, Gord Scutt in 2000, Darren Griff in 1994, Ed Beauchemin in 1984, Steve Berry in 1981 and Sandy Harper in 1980, among others.

But don’t look for a Couples lurking up from Washington state this week in the almost B.C.-exclusive COVID field.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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