Long Island and the PGA Championship would have been the preference job-wise. But another Island on the other side of the continent offered PGA Tour player Roger Sloan the best kind of consolation — a week of family time with wife Casey and one-year-old daughter Leighton.
Bear Mountain is one of Sloan’s sponsors and he makes two to three appearances per season at the Langford layout.
“I’ve been associated with Bear Mountain since 2014 and this is just an exceptional setting,” he said, while shooting a round Wednesday, with club members who got to play a hole or two with him.
Despite not qualifying for the 2019 PGA Championship in what looks to be a cold spring week at Bethpage Black, it has been a solid season to date for Sloan. He is 111th in the FedEx Cup standings and has made the cut in nine of the 18 PGA Tour events he has played this season, with the highlights being his tie for second place at 12-under in the Puerto Rico Open and tie for 12th place at 17-under in the Desert Open. Sloan has had three top-25 finishes so far this year and season winnings of $516,530 US.
“You progress every season as a pro and I feel I’m a lot better this year on the Tour than I was last year in my first year [as a regular],” said Sloan.
“I’ve put together some strong weekends and I want to build on those.”
It’s been a long climb for the 32-year-old from Merritt, who still vividly recalls his fourth-place finish in the 2010 Victoria Times Colonist Open, in what is now the Bayview Place/DCBank Open presented by the Times Colonist on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada.
“I shot a 61 on that Sunday at Uplands and that validated my aspirations to become a pro golfer,” said Sloan, now based in Houston, Texas.
The Canadian tour led to the next level Web.com Tour in 2015 and then the jump to his first PGA Tour events in 2015 before earning full-time status last year.
People in hockey tell you it’s a fine line in pro from the ECHL through the AHL to the NHL. It is no different in golf.
“There are not necessarily players with more talent on the PGA Tour, but a lot more players with talent in terms of numbers. The talent pool becomes a lot more concentrated,” said Sloan.
He added it’s consistency that separates the great from the good: “Everybody who gets there obviously has skill sets to have done so. Those who can access those skill sets with the most frequency are the ones, like say Dustin Johnson, who become the most successful.”
That consistency is what Sloan, and everybody else on the Tour, strives to attain. A big upcoming event for him is the 2019 Canadian Open next month in Hamilton as every national golfer dreams of becoming the first Canadian to finally win the home-nation Open since Pat Fletcher of Victoria in 1954.
“It is the hope of every Canadian golfer,” said Sloan.
“You can’t pick and choose the individual weeks to have your best rounds on the tour. But there are so many Canadians playing well at high levels right now that it’s only a matter of time until that drought ends and a Canadian wins the Canadian Open.”
The depth of Canadian golf is also on Sloan’s mind as he pursues his other great career goal of representing Canada at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Sloan is on the radar for the two-man Canadian team, but so are fellow PGA Tour members Corey Conners, Mackenzie Hughes, David Hearn, Ben Silverman, Graham DeLaet, Nick Taylor, Adam Svensson and Adam Hadwin.
“I am looking to accumulate as many world-ranking points as I can over the next year because representing Canada in the Olympics would be a dream come true,” said Sloan.
After his week of R and R on Bear Mountain, it’s back to the PGA Tour grind next week at the Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.