*Image credit: Chuck Russell/PGA TOUR
Kelowna, British Columbia (Mackenzie Tour) – Wilmer, Alabama’s Robby Shelton shot a 2-under 69 on Sunday at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf and Country Club to win the GolfBC Championship and claim his first Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada victory.
The former University of Alabama standout closed out the victory in style with a 7-footer for birdie at the 72nd hole to win by one over Camarillo, California’s Johnny Ruiz, Danville, California’s Cody Blick and Ridgeway, Virginia’s Adam Webb.
The win puts Shelton atop the Order of Merit through three events, in position to earn Web.com Tour status for the 2018 season.
“It means a lot. Just to win anywhere is so exciting. Just to know that my game’s there and to finally get one done feels great,” said Shelton.
Shelton began the day with a three-stroke lead over Webb, but quickly found himself in a four-way battle for the title as Webb, Blick and Ruiz made their charges. It was Ruiz who charged hardest, making birdie at 14 and 15 to take the solo lead at 19-under.
Unbeknownst to Shelton, Ruiz caught bad break at 18 when his tee shot nestled up against a pine tree that guards the approach to the green and was forced to play his second shot left-handed, eventually making bogey to fall into a tie for the clubhouse lead with Blick.
“I had no idea. Looking up on the scoreboard, it said 19-under (through 17), and I thought for sure he parred this hole,” said Shelton, who took driver off the tee in an attempt to make birdie and found the thick rough left of the fairway, 65 yards from the pin.
“I pulled it a little,” said Shelton of his drive. “My lie wasn’t great, but I just knew I had to land it on the green and roll out to the pin.”
He executed the shot to perfection, however, rolling the ball to within seven feet of the tucked back-right pin and giving him a birdie putt that he unwittingly had for his first Mackenzie Tour win.
“Over the putt, I thought I had to make it to go into a playoff,” said Shelton, who poured the putt in the middle of the hole to the roar of the crowd that knew what he didn’t – that he had just won the GolfBC Championship.
“Somebody told me when I was walking off the green that I won, and then it hit me,” said Shelton. “I still have to play well the rest of this season, but to get a win early on is huge and does a lot for my confidence.
With the win, Shelton moves atop the Order of Merit, just $323 ahead of Freedom 55 Financial Open winner Lee McCoy. Webb, Blick and Ruiz, meanwhile, each notched career-best finishes in a tie for second.
As an amateur, Robby Shelton was consistently among the top players in college golf. He played at the University of Alabama from 2013 to 2016, where he won seven times, helped the Crimson Tide to the 2014 National Championship and was named a 1st team All-American in each of his three seasons.
Shelton finished third at the 2015 Barbasol Championship on the PGA TOUR, the highest finish by an amateur on the PGA TOUR since Phil Mickelson won the 1991 Northern Telecom Open.
Shelton earned exempt status for the 2017 season by winning the USA East #1 Q-School. He opened his 2017 season with finishes of T20-T14 and ranks 21st on the Order of Merit.
Shelton’s 2015 Walker Cup teammates Lee McCoy, Hunter Stewart and Jordan Niebrugge are also Mackenzie Tour members this season.
With the win, Shelton becomes the first player to hold the solo lead after every round of an event since Joel Dahmen at the 2014 Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON and the first player to hold at least a share of the lead after each round of a tournament since Adam Cornelson at the 2016 Bayview Place Cardtronics Open presented by Times Colonist.
HARLINGTEN TAKES FREEDOM 55 FINANCIAL TOP CANADIAN
With a total score of 13-under par in a tie for seventh, West Vancouver, British Columbia’s Seann Harlingten finished as the top Canadian on the leaderboard, earning Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week honours and a $2,500 prize.
The top Canadian on the leaderboard each week takes home the award, with the top Canadian on the Order of Merit at season’s end earning the Dan Halldorson Trophy, Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Year honours and a $25,000 prize.
MORE PLAYER NOTES:
29-year old Adam Webb was making his 14th career start on the Mackenzie Tour. Last year, he recorded three top-25s and one top-10 to earn a spot in the Freedom 55 Financial Championship and retain exempt status for 2017.
Webb played collegiate golf at Longwood University, where he recorded two individual wins. He owns two mini tour wins as a professional on the eGolf Tour and GPro Tour.
23-year old Cody Blick was making his 13th career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. Earlier this year, he earned exempt status for the first eight events of the season with a T4 finish at the USA West #1 Q-School.
Last week in Victoria, Blick shot a 10-under 60 in the third round of the Bayview Place Cardtronics Open presented by Times Colonist and finished T3.
23-year old Johnny Ruiz was making his seventh career start on the Mackenzie Tour. Earlier this year, he earned exempt status for the first eight events of the season with a T2 finish at the British Columbia Q-School.
Ruiz had conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour in 2015 and missed the cut in all four starts. He did begin playing golf until age 14 and notched his first pro win at the 2016 Monterey Open.
CHASE FOR THE FIVE
With his win on Sunday, Robby Shelton moved to the top spot atop the Order of Merit through three events. Below are the top five players through two weeks.
- Robby Shelton $36,573
- Lee McCoy $36,250
- Max Rottluff $32,454
- Cody Blick $23,217
- T.J. Vogel $22,908
- Weather: 22 degrees Celsius, cloudy, winds 10 km/h gusting to 15 km/h.
- Playing in the day’s first tee time as a single, Sean Walsh shot a 3-under 68 and played in 1 hour, 38 minutes.
- Shelton received seven free daily rental vouchers for a rental car from AVIS for the win.
- Jared du Toit finished T9 in his second event as a pro and earned an spot in the field at the Players Cup, July 3-9 at Pine Ridge Golf Club in Winnipeg.
- Click here for scores.