AUGUST 16, 2017
RICHMOND, BC (PGA of British Columbia) -- Given the venue for this year’s TaylorMade & adidas Golf PGA of BC Championship presented by Axis Insurance Managers, the buzz around this year’s tournament has been palpable since the beginning of the season.
The Association’s premier championship takes place at Capilano Golf & Country Club on Aug. 24 and 25, with nearly 100 Professionals from across the province coming to compete in 36 holes of stroke play at the prestigious West Vancouver facility.
Proof positive that next week’s event is one of the most hotly-anticipated championships put on by the PGA of BC in recent memory is how quickly the field filled up. It’s been at capacity since mid-March, just a few weeks after registration opened.
Host Head Professional Mark Thirtle wasn’t surprised to see his colleagues clamouring to compete at Capilano, which is perennially ranked among the country’s top courses. The rich history and tradition, the stunning Stanley Thompson course design and impeccable facilities make Capilano a must-play for any British Columbian golfer.
“Any time you can get your industry colleagues to come to your facility, you’re excited to show it off to them,” said Thirtle. “The fact that they get to play and it will be in perfect condition, to PGA Tour standard in the greens and the setup, I think it’s going to produce a worthy champion.
“It’s a golf course that is really fun to play and if you put yourself in the right places you can score well.”
Next week’s championship will be the first PGA of BC event at Capilano since the 2009 Tournament of Champions, but the Association’s history books suggest this will be the first time in almost 40 years that the club has hosted one of the PGA of BC’s active stroke-play championships. Thirtle said the membership and staff at Capilano are thrilled to be welcoming the tournament.
“It was unanimous when it went to the Match Committee for approval,” he said. “They realize it’s the flagship event for the Association … It’s nice the members have given it their blessing and it’s going to be a great event.”
Having a chance to play at Capilano is certainly a big draw for many Professionals in the field, particularly those from outside the Lower Mainland who don’t get to frequent the renowned course. That includes defending champion and reigning PGA of BC Player of the Year Gordy Scutt, who hasn’t strolled the fairways at Capilano since the 1996 BC Junior Boys’ Championship.
“I loved it then and I’m sure it’s even better today than it was then,” said Scutt, who is based out of Victoria’s Olympic View Golf Club. “It’s such an amazing place … and it’s going to be awesome to have the opportunity to play there again.”
Having an opportunity to play at all is something Scutt is grateful for after a frustrating season that has left him sidelined with an injury. Although he’s missed out on most of the 2017 campaign in recovery, he’s resumed playing in the last few weeks and expects he’ll be able to tee it up next week. He recently posted a top-10 finish at the Gorge Vale Open in his return to tournament golf.
“It wasn’t obviously my normal expectations for where I want to finish, but the way I felt, I was happy with the way I played,” said the 36-year-old. “More importantly, it’s just nice being out there.”
Knowing he’s not quite back to 100 per cent health, Scutt isn’t necessarily expecting he’ll claim his third PGA of BC Championship title in four years, but he’s not counting himself out, either.
“It’s going to be tough. Any time you have an opportunity to defend you want to make sure you have a good go at it. I still feel like I’ve got an outside chance,” he said.
“I’ll just try to get up and down from everywhere, make a lot of putts and maybe get lucky. Either way it’s going to be a blast.”
Given their knowledge of the venue, the five Professionals in the field affiliated with Capilano – Thirtle, 2005 PGA of BC Champion Mike Haraguchi, Greg Pool, Cory Draper and Ben McKendrick -- may have a slight edge on the competition. At the same time, playing at home comes with a different set of challenges, said Thirtle.
“I’d like to think that (we) have somewhat of an advantage knowing the course, but also have the weight of the members watching them and hoping for great things,” he said. “So I think it’s a catch-22. It’s great to know it, but you can also put too much pressure on yourself.”
Without giving away too many of Capilano’s secrets, Thirtle said he anticipates next week’s winner will have excelled with their short game.
“It’s going to be a good putter that wins,” he said. “Off the tee it’s not the most demanding course and the length wouldn’t scare anyone, but around the greens is where the teeth of the golf course are. Chipping out of our rough – it’s sticky, it’s tough and you need to have good control of the ball.”
The PGA of BC Women’s Champion will also be crowned on Aug. 25, with the title going to the low-scoring female Professional in the field. Two-time winner Jennifer Greggain (Chilliwack Golf Club; 2013, 2015) is among those expected to compete.
Tee times will begin at 7 a.m. in both rounds, while the final groups will tee off at 12:20 p.m. each day. Click here for full tournament information.
PGA of BC Championship Fast Facts:
-Scott Minni holds the record for most PGA of BC Championship titles in the modern era with four, all of which came in a six-event span from 1992 to 1997. His consecutive titles in 1992, ’93 and ’94 mark the only time a Professional has won three PGA of BC Championships in a row.
-Four Professionals have captured the title three times, including Bryn Parry (Point Grey Golf & Country Club; 2000, 2008, 2015), who is in the 2017 field and will have a chance to match Minni’s four victories. Others with three PGA of BC Championships to their credit are Dean Claggett (Two Eagles Golf Course & Academy; 1989, 1991, 2002), Jim Rutledge (1980, 1981, 1983) and the late Cec Ferguson (1976, 1977, 1985).
-In addition to Scutt, Haraguchi and Parry, other past champions in the field this year include Lindsay Bernakevitch (Victoria Golf Club; 2011), Doug Morgan (Richmond Country Club; 2009 & 2010), Edd Boudreau (Gorge Vale Golf Club; 2006), Phil Jonas (Philip Jonas Golf Academy; 2003) and Keith Westover (University Golf Club; 1990).
-Since becoming a 36-hole event in 2013, every PGA of BC Championship contested has been decided in a playoff or by a one-shot margin of victory. Parry’s 8-under total of 136 at Fairview Mountain Golf Club in 2015 stands as the scoring record for a two-round championship.
For more information, please contact:
Communications & Marketing Manager, PGA of BC