Over the recent August long weekend, I ventured east to Victoriaville, Quebec to play in the annual Coupe Canada, hosted by the Quebec PGA (AGP). This is one of the largest club professional tournaments in Canada and featured players from almost every province. Having heard a great many things from fellow PGA of BC pro's, I was very excited for the event. Also, in the past BC pro's had featured very well in the standings, winning in 2011, 2012,and 2013. I was determined to continue this trend.
The Victoriaville Golf Club is a par 72, old style course located in the medium sized town of Victoriaville, located halfway between Montreal and Quebec City. The course itself feature six par fives, six par fours and six par threes. It is not long in length but with some tricky greens and a number of dogleg tee shots, I still had to hit good shots. Feeling confident, I opened with nine birdies to one bogey, for an eight under par 64. I was tied for the lead with a solid Alberta PGA member, Mike Belbin.
The Quebec PGA or AGP, conduct a number of tournaments throughout the province, a few of which they invite PGA of Canada pro's to them. I had played the Omnium du Quebec, in Quebec City, a month before and was very impressed with the high standard of the tournament. I finished in a tie for 16th, not quite what I had in mind, but not too bad either.
The Coupe Canada was something else. It seemed like the entire town of Victoriaville was behind the event. After two days of large pro am's, Thursday brought numerous spectators who followed the feature groups, almost unheard of in club pro golf. After my round, I spent twenty minutes answering questions in the AGP media centre (dedicated RV). Both major newspapers in Quebec were there, along with the local journals.
Friday brought much of the same, more people, more volunteers and more great weather. I was definitely nervous starting my round, and missed a relatively short par putt on the first hole. After a good birdie on the short par five third hole, I began to calm down and find my rhythm. Knowing scores would most likely by low again, I focussed on making birdies whenever possible. My strategy was simple, keep the ball below the hole and putt aggressively uphill. I finished Friday’s round with a 68, was 12 under for two days and had a three shot lead.
Saturday was another perfect day. Teeing off at noon in the last group, the number of spectators had swelled around the first tee. I was quite excited and remarkably less nervous. The jitters from Friday has worked through my system and was ready to go. After another solid tee shot and par on the first two holes, I made a good birdie on the third to get the day going. Lots of fairways, greens and uphill putt’s resulted in a second straight 68, a total of 16 under par and a four shot lead. My roommate for the week, and boss at the range, Bryn Parry, who had also won this tournament in 2011 and 2012, shot a blistering 64, to jump into third place at 10 under par. We would play together in the final group.
Knowing I had a four shot cushion provided some breathing room on Sunday. My game plan was simple, continue to do what I had been doing, look after my own game, ignoring the others. I figured another 68 or better would make it virtually impossible for either Greg or Bryn to catch me. I opened well again and birdied the first hole and then hit a great four iron from 205 yards to approximately 12’ on the second hole to quickly move to 18 under par, 5 shots up. Just about everything was going my way and it continued on Sunday. I hit smart solid golf shots, to the fat parts of greens and took advantage of the short holes when opportunities presented. I played the front nine in two under par and then birdied the 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th and then holed a 117 yard wedge to make birdie on the par five 16th hole, to shoot five under, 31. Walking up the 18th hole, I was able to look around and reflect on the week, my play and the 2500+ spectators at the Victoriaville Golf Club.
I am very proud of how I played on all 72 holes. I recorded only 6 bogeys to 27 birdies and an eagle. I played patient, smart golf and kept my emotions and nerves very much under control. This is by far the largest tournament I have won and to lead start to finish, and win by such a big margin is truly awesome. This win validates a number of years of hard work on my game and has opened my eyes to new potential.
I should note and say thanks to the PGA of Quebec, the main sponsors Sani Marc and the City of Victoriaville along with the hundreds of volunteers and spectators who supported the event. It was a very special tournament which exceeded my expectations in every way.
Lastly, Sunday August 3rd, the final round, was my one year wedding anniversary. Needless to say my wife was very proud but I owe her a huge thanks for such an amazing year and for letting me delay our one year celebration by a week.