Kelowna, BC's Mlikotic Ready To Chase His Pro Golf Dream At Q-School
Kelowna's John Mlikotic Is One of 15 British Columbians Who Will Tee It Up This Week In The Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada Q-School At Courtenay's Crown Isle Resort - Image Courtesy VGT
By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf
The goal is to treat it like any other golf tournament, which of course is easier said than done. After all, Q-School is not any other tournament. Play badly here and you don’t move on and play the next week. You don’t play at all.
John Mlikotic knows this, but hopes he can keep those thoughts out of his head when he tees it up in Tuesday’s first round of the fifth and final Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada qualifying school at Crown Isle Resort in Courtenay.
Mlikotic, a 23-year-old Kelowna native, will be one of the rookies in the 120-man field at Crown Isle. After graduating from Simon Fraser University in 2016, he worked as an assistant pro at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf Course in Kelowna.
He spent much of this past winter in Arizona, working on his game and preparing for what he hopes will be the beginning of his new life as a touring pro. “This will be my first Q-School so it will definitely be a new experience,” he says.
“I am just trying to make it feel like a normal round of golf, or four rounds. I am preparing the same way I have for every tournament. I just want to play my best, right. You obviously want to do that this week, especially. I just want to keep it regular and normal like every other tournament.
“I think it is a great golf course and the competition is going to be good. Based on the scores last year, I don’t think it’s so much a problem of being capable of shooting the rounds that I need to to get my card but more the stage that it is on and controlling my nerves and stuff like that.”
Mlikotic feels like he has his game in good order heading to Crown Isle. “I am definitely playing some of he best golf of my life,” he says. “I think I feel ready. I won a Vancouver Golf Tour event two weeks ago at Pagoda Ridge (in Langley) and it was good to get a win under my belt heading to Q-School.”
The top 40 players at Crown Isle will earn some status on the 2017 Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada circuit, which begins June 1-4 with the Freedom 55 Financial Open at Point Grey Golf & Country Club in Vancouver. But the real goal will be to finish inside the top 16.
The medalist at this week’s tourney earns exempt status for the entire tour, while those finishing second through fifth are exempt through the first eight events. Those finishing sixth through 16th are exempt through the first four events of the season.
Last year, it took a 72-hole score of three-under to tie for 16th place. Mlikotic doesn’t think he needs to shoot the lights out, just play solid golf and avoid the big numbers. “That is the goal, keep the big numbers off the scorecard and make a few birdies here and there,” he says. “I think I am very capable of shooting numbers like that, I just think it is more a matter of the stage we are playing on and controlling the nerves. We know what we are playing for.”
Mlikotic got a taste of the Mackenzie Tour when he received a sponsor’s exemption into last summer’s Golf BC Championship at Gallagher’s Canyon. He missed the 36-hole cut by one shot. “I missed the cut there but I played well and got some good experience. It is definitely a tournament I can draw on when I need a little confidence boost, just the way I handled my nerves there and kind of embraced it. If I can do that at Q-School I think I’ll be fine.”
image courtesy sfu athletics
Mlikotic Is A Former SFU Clan Member And Was Team Captain
Mlikotic was a member of the 2015 SFU men’s golf team that finished fifth at the NCAA Division II national championships. Two of his former SFU teammates, Burnaby’s Mike Belle and Bret Thompson of Winnipeg, are also in the Crown Isle field this week.
The field includes 29 Canadians, including Riley Wheeldon of Comox, who grew up playing at Crown Isle and finished second on the Mackenzie Tour money list in 2013. Wheeldon is back at Q-School after failing to finish in the top 60 on last year’s money list.
Other British Columbians scheduled to tee it up this week include Brendan Dillon of Port Moody, Keith Martin of Kelowna, Troy Bulmer of Vernon, Jonathan Wiegner of Vancouver, John McLellan of Chilliwack, Callum Robinson of Langley, Brett Stewart of Abbotsford, Andrew Rasmussen of Delta, Kevin Kwon of Pitt Meadows, Christopher Ro of North Vancouver, Garrett Kuchar of Chilliwack and Brady Stead of Vernon.
CLICK HERE to follow scores in the Crown Isle