Team from Belvedere wins RBC PGA Scramble
By: Jason Logan, SCOREGOLF
INVERNESS, Nova Scotia – The common refrain when it came to the idea of “victory” during the first two days of this week’s RBC PGA Scramble final at Cabot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia was that everyone assembled here had already won.
Which made sense.
A paid-for trip with great pals to Canada’s best golf resort for the right to vie for a national championship is pretty sweet indeed. Paid-for, but well-earned too, with each team surviving two qualifiers to get here.
Ultimately, however, all golf tournaments crown champions, which meant the intensity was ratcheted up a notch for a few teams during Tuesday’s final round. Whereas revelry reigned supreme on Sunday and Monday, there were some extra exhales on the first tee for the boys in contention. This team tournament is all about fun, sure, but when you put yourself in position to win, you sure as heck want to seal the deal.
Early on, that didn’t look to be the case for Team Belvedere, the 36-hole leader. The squad of New Brunswickers Ryan Thurrott, Mark Brown, Adam McGaghey, Colin Armstrong and P.E.I. pro Jamie Moran had no mojo during their opening four holes. All gross pars on the scorecard and not a terrific display of tee shots.
Thurrott described he and his mates as “extremely tight off the start.”
Up ahead, Team Black Mountain, comprised of Keenan Hall, Sandeep Sandhu, Amar Munjal, Armaan Khangurra and PGA pro Greg Forbes, had nosed ahead, with the fivesome from Saskatchewan’s Valley Regional Park — Brad Nemish, Aaron Thomas, Lane Buswell, Dustin Smolinski and pro Conner McGill — charging as well.
The conditions were ideal on Cabot Links with a cloudless sky, the week’s warmest and just enough wind, at least in the early going, to wreak havoc.
Belvedere turned the tide with a birdie on the par-3 fifth and on Cabot’s “Harbour Hole,” the par-4 sixth. They carried that momentum for a long stretch of holes until they reached the 14th, a gorgeous par 3 played to an infinity green backed by the Northumberland Strait. Still needing two tee shots from Brown and one from Armstrong (each player must count three), they opted for Armstrong’s ball off the green rather than a straight-in 15-footer.
The long deliberation was indicative of the strategy that goes into this event as well as the pressure of the moment, and the resulting par put them two full shots behind Black Mountain.
But the beauty of scramble tournaments is that all winning teams get contributions from every one of their members. Still needing to supply two drives, Brown dipped into his past to rediscover a fairway-finding cut shot that he executed to perfection on the oceanside 15th and 16th holes. Armstrong rolled in a 50-footer for birdie on 15 while Moran saved the day with a net-eagle conversion from short range on 16.
That put them right back in the race standing on the 17th tee, but still needing birdie, net-birdie, on the last two holes to win. That’s when Moran hit one of the best clutch shots of his life, an eight-iron to a foot on the par-3 penultimate hole.
“That shot on 17, I’ll bottle that one up in the memory back and remember that one for a while the next time I have to hit an important shot,” said Moran.
Though they didn’t know it at the time, Belvedere needed just a two-putt from 20 feet for the victory on the 18th hole. Their reaction was therefore subdued upon holing out for par but turned positively jubilant once discovering they’d wound up on top.
“It feels awesome, I love it, best week ever. You can’t put it into words,” said Thurrott. “I love every one of these guys.”
For Moran, the head pro at Charlottetown’s Belvedere, which is still closed in the wake of Hurricane Fiona, the victory was extra special given the amateurs he had in tow. He is a veteran of many PGA of Canada tournaments over his career, but like the boys for New Brunswick, he can call himself a national champion.
“This one was fun, and to experience it with these guys, try to talk them through the jitters early on, they were trying a little bit too hard, but once we got rolling, we got a little bit more comfortable and I think it was actually better for us to know that we were doing a little chasing versus playing protection,” said Moran.
In the end, Belvedere finished with an adjusted score of -61.1. Valley Regional Park was second at -60.7 and Kelowna, B.C.’s Black Mountain was third at -60.3
While all 20 teams in the national final are going home with plenty of swag, both purchased and given, plus memories to last a lifetime, Team Belvedere received an extra-special prize for taking the tournament title. Courtesy of RBC, they will be VIP guests at next year’s RBC Canadian Open at Toronto’s Oakdale Golf and Country Club.