B.C. Settles For Second In Willingdon Cup Competition At Canadian Men’s Amateur

Quebec's Winning Willingdon Cup Team L-R: William Forgues, Laurent Desmarchais, Christopher Vandette - Image Courtesy Golf Canada

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Tony Li had never heard of the Willingdon Cup until he found out he was on British Columbia’s team. That happened a couple of weeks ago when Li, a 20-year-old from Vancouver, finished second at the B.C. Amateur Championship at Christina Lake Golf Club.

The top three finishers at the B.C. Amateur play for the province in the Willingdon Cup, an inter-provincial team competition held during the first two rounds of the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship. 

“I had never heard of it, but it is something really cool and I was really proud to represent B.C.,” Li said after finishing his second round at Point Grey Golf & Country Club.

Li and his B.C. teammates, B.C. Amateur champion Jackson Rothwell of Victoria and Caleb Davies of Langley, had to settle for second. They finished seven shots behind the winning team from Quebec. B.C. had entered the second round just two shots behind Quebec.

“I wouldn’t say it was fully on my mind today, but it is cool to play for something other than yourself,’ Li said. “That made it special.” This was Rothwell’s second Willingdon Cup. He played on the 2019 team after winning his first B.C. Amateur that summer. He joked that it was not a particularly memorable experience. “I think we all ended up missing the cut that year,” he said.

The Willingdon Cup was on Rothwell’s mind when the second round began. But it had to take a back seat when Rothwell was forced into grind mode to the make the 36-hole cut at the Canadian Amateur. “It would have been nice to have won it,” he said.

“But I was so close to the cutline and I would have been thinking of it more if we were in the hunt and I was playing better. I was a little more focused on myself. I had a pretty grimy two days. I am struggling with my ball-striking. I couldn’t have hit more than six or seven greens today.”

Rothwell lost count of the number of up-and-down pars he made to salvage an even-par 71 and make the cut with a shot to spare. Li fired a three-over 74, but made the cut comfortably after opening with a two-under 69 in his first round at Seymour. Davies missed the cut which fell at four-over par.

The Willingdon Cup was played this year for the first time since 2019 after being shelved due to Covid-19 the past two years. Unfortunately, the competition does not have the lustre it once did. Doug Roxburgh, a four-time Canadian Amateur winner, counts his 11 Willingdon Cup wins as among his top career highlights. “It was definitely a bigger deal years ago,” Roxburgh said after his second round at Point Grey.

“I think there were stronger rivalries then, probably. People were around longer, they weren’t turning pro, and you got to know the other guys on the other teams. It was a chance to travel and play in a big tournament. I was on teams with Johnny Russell and Bert Ticehurst, Harry White, Dave Mick, Rick Gibson, Ward Stouffer and others. It was a really big deal.”

Image Credit BYU Cougars

The Individual Halfway Leader In The Canadian Men's Amateur Is Elijah Turner From BYU

The 256-man field was cut to the low 70 and ties after players had played rounds on both Point Grey and Seymour Golf & Country Club in North Vancouver. The final two round of the championship will be played at Point Grey.

Through two rounds, the top of the leaderboard is bereft of Canadians. Five Americans, an Australian and a Colombian hold down the top seven spots. Elijah Turner of Highland, Utah leads at six-under par. That’s one shot better than Australian Michael Haranhan Smith, who fired a five-under 66 at Point Grey in the second round.

Five Canadians, including Keith Ng and Alex Zhang, both of Richmond, are tied for eighth at two-under par. A.J. Ewart of Coquitlam, one of the pre-tournament favorites, is tied for 15th at one-under after struggling with his ball-striking in the second round.

“We are only halfway through the tournament,” said Ewart, who was the NCAA Division II player of the year this past season at Barry University in south Florida. “I am okay with where I am. With the way I played today, I am really happy. I am just going to try and play two solid rounds and see what happens.”

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