It took place in the Okanagan, but that didn’t stop a little bit of Mill Bay magnificence from shining through.
Tristan Mandur became the fourth Islander to win the B.C. men’s amateur golf championship in the past five years by taking the 118th edition Thursday in Kelowna.
“This feels awesome,” said the Duncan Meadows member and former Arbutus Ridge golfer, who plays in the NCAA Pac-12 for the University of Utah Utes.
“I just went out there and played my normal game,” added the Mill Bay native and graduate of Shawnigan Lake School.
But normal in tournament play is not easy amid the restrictions to the game caused by the pandemic. The 2020 B.C. Amateur was reduced to 54 holes from 72 and there were no caddies or spectators allowed as the players followed the COVID-19 guidelines all golfers have become familiar with by now. But the key is golf was the first sport to return and there have been plenty of rounds to be had even amid the pandemic.
“I’ve had lots of time to work on my game and it’s paid off,” said Mandur, by phone from Kelowna.
“I’ve played in some Vancouver Golf Tour events to keep myself sharp.”
Mandur joins recent past Island champions of the B.C. Amateur, including Jackson Rothwell of Victoria Golf Club 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.
“There’s a lot of good golfers on the Island because the courses are good and the weather is solid,” said Mandur.
Mandur shot a 10-under three-round total of 206 to record a one-shot victory over runner-up Daniel Swanson of Abbotsford and was four shots clear of third-place A.J. Ewart of Coquitlam. Defending-champion Rothwell was tied for fourth at 4-under 212, William Bishop of Victoria Club seventh at 3-under 213, Thoroughgood and James Swan of Gorge Vale tied for eighth at 2-under 214 and Aidan Goodfellow of Parksville and Eli Greene of Nanaimo tied for 11th at 1-under 2015.
Thoroughgood was only 15 at the time when he became the youngest player to win the B.C. Amateur in 2016 and Rothwell, a 2019 graduate of St. Michaels University School, was 18 when he won last year. The weight of expectation has hindered many a sports career. But the Island’s rising golf stars are hitting, chipping and putting well through the possible perils and pitfalls of early success.
“It is one of those things you have to deal with and I feel I’ve handled it well,” said Thoroughgood.
“There’s no magic formula in dealing with the pressure. You just have to trust yourself and know yourself and be yourself.”
The B.C. junior boys’ championship was held concurrently in Kelowna and it was another Island show with Bishop the champion with his 3-under 213 and Swan tied for second a stroke back. Jeevan Sihota and Conor Watson, both of Gorge Vale, were tied for sixth at 219.
“There are a lot of good, young players coming out of the Island and I’m excited to see where we all go,” said Mandur, who heads back to Utah next month to what is an uncertain NCAA season amid the pandemic.
The 16-year-old Sihota has been the meteor out of that Island youth crew and earned media coverage as early as six-years-old as a child prodigy, going on to win three world championships at the six-, eight- and 12-year-old levels at places such as San Diego and Pinehurst, North Carolina. Championships in Golf Canada Future Links program followed.
“I don’t treat it as pressure,” said Sihota, from Kelowna this week.
“I play golf to have fun and to challenge myself.”
And now the pack closes in.
“The Island has a lot of good players, and we feed off each other and fuel each other,” said the online-schooled Sihota, whose long-term goals are the NCAA followed by a pro career.
Both Sihota and Thoroughgood have been members of the Golf Canada national team training centre on Bear Mountain.
“I feel that program really helped my career,” said Thoroughgood.
Now Thoroughgood is joined by Mandur as having his name engraved on the Bostock Trophy along with Rothwell, four-time winner James Lepp, two-time champion A.V. Macan, 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.