Team Canada Development Squad member Riley Fleming of Airdrie, Alberta claimed the 110th BC Amateur Championship at Swan-e-set Bay Resort in Pitt Meadows, becoming the first non-British Columbian to capture the title since Fred Couples in 1979.
Quietly climbing the leaderboard and doing his best to make a run at Fleming was his Team Canada teammate Kevin Kwon of Pitt Meadows and member at Swan-e-set Bay Resort and Country Club. If it wasn't for an opening round 75, Kwon might have duked it out with Fleming for top honours as he closed the championship with three-straight two-under-par 70's, topping Carrigan by a single shot for third at -3 (75-70-70-70-285).
Fleming stayed at the Kwon's family home throughout the week.
"A special thanks goes to the Kwon's for letting me stay with them all week. They were so great it felt like I was playing in my own backyard."
"It must have been the breakfast mom gave him," joked Kwon after his round.
When asked on what it feels like to win the BC Amateur, Fleming couldn't contain his excitement. "I am very happy with winning this championship. To have my name on the same trophy as a legend like Doug Roxburgh who has won this 13-times is a true honour."
Swan-e-set Bay Resort and Country Club was unlike the courses Fleming is used to playing in Alberta.
"The greens crew did an outstanding job at getting this course ready after the rain it saw on Monday. You don't get courses this lush back home so it was an excellent venue to play at and I want to thank everyone from the club, volunteers and British Columbia Golf for putting on a great event."
As a member of Team Canada and non-British Columbian, Fleming cannot be a member of Team BC heading to the Canadian Men's Amateur Championship in Cumberland, Ontario Aug. 7 to 10. By way of finishing second, third and fourth, Jung, Kwon, and Carrigan will be the interprovincial team.
Playing on a special exemption into the championship, the recent Alberta men's amateur champion went two-for-two on provincial championships, coming from behind to have his name etched on the Bostock Trophy as champion.
Fleming started the day one-stroke back of Victoria's Kevin Carrigan who has gunning for a wire-to-wire victory at the difficult Swan-e-set Bay Resort and Country Club.
Unfortunately for Carrigan, it was not to be as he got off to a poor start on the second hole, carding a bogey and bringing him into a tie with Fleming. Fleming was quiet on his first two holes before making an important birdie on the par 3, 188-yard third hole.
"I was able to get my round off to a good start with a birdie on three," said Fleming. "Even though I was behind to start, I wasn't really concerned with birdies and bogey's. I knew I needed to try and get to at least eight-under-par because Kevin [Carrington] is such a great player."
Fleming helped his quest for eight-under when he made nothing but par's for twelve straight holes, including one on the par 5, 551-yard 14th, a hole he thought he should have birdied.
"Making par on that hole really felt like a bogey. It was playing forward so I missed a shot there," stated Fleming.
He would preserve what was only his second career bogey-free competitive round of golf with a putt for par on the 15th that was described by someone in the gallery as "a putt he had no business making".
Building off that momentum and hanging on to a two-shot lead over a charging Brian Jung of Coquitlam who birdied 14, Fleming would stick his gap wedge on the par 3, 124-yard 16th to five feet and make birdie. Jung could not capitalize on his birdie putt, bringing the lead to three-strokes going into the final two holes.
While Carrigan was going the wrong way on the leaderboard, Fleming continued to excel, making a second-straight birdie on the par 4, 388-yard 17th after an incredible approach shot that released just past the hole.
"I was really only trying to get that putt close," said Fleming of his 20-foot downhiller. "I definitely wasn't trying to make it." It was a good thing he did as Jung would not relent on his charge, pouring a birdie in moments after Fleming made his putt to keep things interesting before both players would close with a par to finish the Championship and end any sort of kick-start drama. Fleming's four-round -8, 280 total (69-71-71-69) gave him a three-shot cushion over Jung at -5 (74-71-68-70-283). Sliding into fourth place after a closing-round 76 was Carrigan who would finish the Championship at -2 (67-71-72-76-286).