Summerland’s Nathan Ward Birdies Final Hole To Win B.C. Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship, Gary Pike Of Victoria Captures B.C. Mid-Master Championship
Summerland's Nathan Ward Is The 2023 BC Men's Mid-Amateur Champion - All Images Credit Bryan Outram/BC Golf
By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf
HARRISON MILLS — Every golf round seems to bring with it that moment of adversity when a player’s character and resolve are put to the test.
For Nathan Ward, that moment came on the par 5 13th hole during the final round of the B.C. Men’s Mid-Amateur and Mid-Master Championships at Sandpiper Golf Course.
Ward made a mess of the hole, walking off the green with a double-bogey seven. That very easily could have been the end of Ward’s chances, but the 37-year-old Summerland resident wasn’t about to give up.
On the par 5 15th hole, he bombed a huge drive that left him only 140 yards to the hole. He stuck his 9-iron approach shot to within seven feet of the hole and then sunk the putt for an eagle.
After clutch pars on 16 and 17, Ward played a great approach shot to the par 4 18th hole and sunk a 10-foot putt for birdie that won him the Mid-Amateur title. “This is just great,” said Ward, who closed with a two-under 70. “I am still kind of digesting it. It all happened so quickly.”
Ward, an insurance adjuster, finished the 54-hole event at four-under par to beat Richmond’s Mike Aizawa by one shot. After opening the tournament with a four-over 76, Ward shot himself into contention with what was the low round of the tournament, a second-round six-under 66. “I was standing on my head yesterday, so that really helped,” he said. “I was still riding the vibes of that into today.”
That 66 had put him into a tie for third place heading into the final round. But because it was shot late in the day, he played in the second to last group on the final day. “That may have been a blessing,” Ward said. “First off, the guys I played with were great and, secondly, it takes a little bit of the pressure off of you.”
From L-R: Sandpiper GM Ted Swaine & BC's Men's Mid-Am Team, Mike Aizawa, Alex Cartwright & Nathan Ward
Ward, who played collegiate golf at the University of B.C. from 2006 through 2009, has only just recently started playing British Columbia Golf championship events again. He said Sandpiper’s stunning scenery helped keep him relatively calm. “The nerves definitely crept in a little bit, but a few deep breaths and just sitting back and enjoying the scenery here helped. It’s a beautiful location.”
Ward, who has played Summerland Golf Club since he was eight years old, said he was most proud of the way he bounced back from his double-bogey on No. 13. “Making that seven on 13 and then turning it around with the eagle and then finishing off that way is satisfying,” he said.
He couldn’t celebrate his win until Aizawa, the second-round leader, had finished his round. Aizawa had an eight-footer for birdie on 18 that would have forced a playoff. He left that putt short of the hole.
“It was right in the jaws and I left it about two feet short,” said Aizawa, who wasn’t aware that Ward had already posted four-under.
“I didn’t know how things stood,” Aizawa said. “Last I saw it looked like three was the number. So I was thinking a two-putt might be good enough. . .I don’t think there’s any way I’d leave that putt short if I knew I had to make it.”
Victoria’s Alex Cartwright finished third at one-under in the Mid-Amateur competition, which is open to players aged 25 and older. Ward, Aizawa and Cartwright will represent British Columbia at the Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship, which goes Aug. 21-24 at Algonquin Golf Course in St. Andrews, N.B.
BC's Men's Mid-Master Champion Gary Pike (L) With BC Golf Tournament Director Jerome Goddard
The Mid-Master Championship, open to players aged 40 and older, was won by Gary Pike of Victoria. Pike closed with a three-over 75 to finish the event at five-over par. That was one shot better than Brent Wilson of Cobble Hill and Walter Kraakman of Deroche.
“I played really well on the front side,” Pike said. “I had five birdies. On the back nine I hit a bad shot on 11, I pull-hooked it and then my confidence wasn’t there. I was definitely double-thinking everything. I hit it in the water on 16.
“I didn’t look at the scoreboard all week and then on 17 tee I looked at it and I was like, okay I need to make two pars and I did. My iron play wasn’t great this week but the short game really kept it together for me. I was happy with that.”
Pike, a former pro who was reinstated as an amateur, said his recent experience playing in the PNGA Lamey Cup competition helped him at Sandpiper. “What a great experience that was,” he said. “That was a bit of a confidence boost.”
A two-person better-ball men’s competition was also contested this week. The team of Aizawa and Brad LePage of Delta won with a 54-hole score of 15-under par. That was one shot better than the teams of Andrew Robb and Nasheel Kassam of Vancouver and Robin Buntain and Mitch Ellis of Vancouver.
Click HERE for complete final scoring.
CHIP SHOTS: The 2024 B.C. Men’s and Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships are scheduled to be played at Golden Golf Club. . .Bradner’s Len Krahn aced the 201-yard par 3 third hole with a 5-iron in the final round. He went on to shoot a two-under 70.