AUGUST 17, 2021
RICHMOND, BC (PGA of British Columbia) – If a first-time entrant winning the TaylorMade Golf & adidas Golf PGA of BC Championship presented by Axis Insurance Group caught you by surprise last year, the man who ultimately hoisted the William Thompson Trophy in 2020 would agree.
Keith Martin (Tower Ranch Golf Club) was an unanticipated champion at Crown Isle Resort & Golf Community last August, earning a two-shot victory in his first PGA of BC stroke-play championship.
“It was definitely unexpected,” said Martin. “I knew I was playing really well last year, but it was just one of those things where you go in without really any expectations and you end up performing pretty well.”
Martin’s title defence begins Monday in Kamloops, as the PGA of BC Championship returns to Rivershore Golf Links for the first time in 10 years. A field featuring 82 other male and female competitors next week will be looking to unseat him as the Association champ in the 36-hole event, which will feature a purse of nearly $34,000.
“It definitely means more to me now than it did at the time,” Martin said when reflecting on the win. “Just knowing the scope of who’s played in that event and what a victory means, not only for your career but to get you into other events. It’s nice to look back and say that you accomplished something bigger like that, it’s pretty cool.”
Rivershore has a distinguished history of hosting elite-level championships at both the professional and amateur levels, including three past editions of the PGA of BC Championship since 1998. That’s because Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s only British Columbia layout is “designed for tournament play,” said host Executive Professional Kevin Oates.
“Jones did a great job of making it a shot-maker’s golf course,” said Oates. “You can’t stand up here and driver all over the property and be rewarded for it. You’ve got to hit it in the right spots and as a result, that’s part of the challenge and it makes for exciting golf.
“We’ve been here for 40 years and it still holds up very well for top-quality players. We’re excited to show off our golf course and all the things that go along with it.”
Kamloops has been at the epicentre of a challenging British Columbia summer, as residents have navigated the impacts of wildfires and extreme heat. Oates said his facility and staff have shown resiliency in response to the difficult conditions.
“We’re no different to anybody else in the area – we’ve dealt with the heat dome, we’ve dealt with the fires, we’ve dealt with evacuation notices,” said Oates. “We feel we’ve done a pretty good job to deal with everything that’s been thrown at us and we’re ready for this.”
Martin, meanwhile, was impacted by the ongoing wildfires in a different way earlier this month. Set to make his national-championship debut at the PGA Championship of Canada, Martin was forced to withdraw after smoke grounded all flights at Kelowna International Airport as he was set to depart for Quebec to compete. Instead, he’ll be drawing confidence from a first appearance in a different event – his runner-up finish at last month’s PGA of BC Assistants’ Championship at Kamloops Golf & Country Club.
Martin’s final-round 67 in that event was especially impressive, considering he missed 10 greens in regulation but didn’t make a bogey.
“At the start of the year I wasn’t putting all that great, but that event really turned everything around,” said the 32-year-old. “To score that well, especially the last day when my ball-striking was not very good, it took a lot mentally to keep everything together that round. I came up two shots short but still feel like I played really well, and I think it was a good warm-up for the title defence next week.”
Though Martin didn’t make it to the PGA Championship of Canada, a few others who did are among the likely contenders for next week’s title. Chief among them is Kevin Stinson (Cheam Mountain Golf Course), who earned runner-up honours at the event after making just one bogey over 72 holes. The current leader of the PGA of BC Order of Merit, Stinson has earned a top-five finish in all four PGA of BC Championships he’s played to date, including a victory in 2018 at Talking Rock Golf Course.
Zach Olson (Chilliwack Golf Club) has also emerged as a player to watch over the past few months due to his consistent play in top-level events. The 25-year-old shared runner-up honours with Martin at the Assistants’ Championship last month – one of four straight second-place finishes he’d notched in tournaments through June and July – then got into the mix at the national championship before finishing T13.
No fewer than seven past winners of the PGA of BC Championship are expected to be in the field, including four-time winner Bryn Parry (Seymour Creek Golf Centre), who makes his return to the event after missing it in 2020, and 2012 winner Brad Clapp (Ledgeview Golf Club). Though he finished second to Martin at Crown Isle last year, Clapp heads to Rivershore as the reigning Club Professional Champion and is seeking his fourth PGA of BC stroke-play title overall.
Nearly all the Association’s 2021 champs to date – Assistants’ Champion Conner Kozak (The Okanagan Golf Club), Seniors’ Champion Rob Anderson (Kelowna Golf & Country Club), Tournament of Champions-winning Professional Dave Zibrik (Point Grey Golf & Country Club) and one half of the triumphant Pro-Assistant Championship team in Mark Kitts (Shadow Ridge Golf Club) – are in the field and can’t be overlooked.
It's been more than a decade since a player won consecutive PGA of BC Championships, the last being Doug Morgan (Richmond Country Club) after his victories in 2009 and 2010. With a list of notable competitors at Rivershore that could go on and on, Martin knows that defending his title next week will be a monumental task.
“That would be probably even more unexpected than winning last year,” he said with a laugh. “To beat the quality of field we have in BC here two years in a row, that would be quite something.”
For the first time this season, the Association will welcome spectators and permit caddies for competitors. Click here to view the Round 1 draw, or click here to view live scores once the tournament is underway.
Click here to view the tournament page, which includes all event details and a list of confirmed competitors.
PGA OF BC CHAMPIONSHIP FAST FACTS
- Rivershore’s Kate Weir is set to become the first woman to serve as a host Head Professional for a PGA of BC Championship next week. She’s one of three women registered to vie for the title overall, joined by two-time PGA of BC Women’s Champion Ashley Zibrik (Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club) and Kat Kennedy (Point Grey Golf & Country Club).
- Other past PGA of BC Championship winners in the field will include John Shin (Northview Golf & Country Club, 2017 winner), Edd Boudreau (Gorge Vale Golf Club, 2006) and Mike Haraguchi (Capilano Golf & Country Club, 2005).
- When Rivershore Golf Links last hosted the PGA of BC Championship in 2011, Lindsay Bernakevitch (Victoria Golf Club) made birdie on the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Parry. Bernakevitch will unfortunately miss next week’s event due to injury.
- When Parry last appeared at the PGA of BC Championship in 2019, the 49-year-old cruised to a six-stroke win at Whistler Golf Club to tie Scott Minni for the all-time record of four titles in the event. If he were to surpass Minni with a win next week, it would also mark his 10th individual PGA of BC stroke-play victory when combined with his record five Assistants’ Championship wins.
- The official course record in competition at Rivershore is a 10-under-par 62 carded by Alberta’s Patrick Murphy during the opening round of the 2018 BC Amateur Championship. During the 2007 PGA of BC Championship, Myles Johnson (Hillview Golf Course) and Kendal Yonomoto (PGA of Canada National Zone) both shot first-round 62s that were not recognized as records at the time due to the use of preferred lies.
- Look back on all past editions of the tournament via the PGA of BC’s Championship History Hub by clicking here.
- The PGA of BC Championship will once again serve as the event determining British Columbia’s roster for the Inter-Zone team competition at the PGA Head Professional Championship of Canada. The top four Club Professionals (Head, Executive or Head Teaching Professionals) next week who play in the national tournament running Oct. 26-28 at Ontario’s Lookout Point Country Club will comprise the PGA of BC squad.
- With a limited number of regional tour events counting toward the PGA of BC Order of Merit this year, the PGA of BC Championship has the potential to create a major shakeup to the current standings. Based on the results of all eligible events through Aug. 11, Stinson holds the lead with 42.33 points, but the winner at Rivershore will add 50.00 points to their 2021 total. Click here for current standings and more details on the Order of Merit.
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