It was a hot final four holes that earned an Edmonton golfer his first victory as a professional.
AJ Armstrong, who golfs out of the Windermere, stayed consistent and won the Alberta Men’s Open Championship at Wolf Creek’s Links course with a score of seven under par.
The 54-hole event, attracting 120 golfers, wrapped on July 30 with Armstrong managing to hold off Edmonton’s Wilson Bateman, who finished at two shots back, and Camrose’s Andrew Harrison, the defending champion who shot a final round 67 to end up just a single shot behind.
“Obviously, I knew what Wilson (Bateman) was doing as we were in the same group, but I wasn’t sure where the guys ahead of us were at,” Armstrong said in an interview.
“So, I just tried to keep the pedal down. Pars are good around this course. I did get a few birdies early in the (final) round. I didn’t play conservative but rather just smart.”
Armstrong, — who shot rounds of 69, 68 and 69 — added he struck the ball really well during the opening two rounds, but the final day was a lot more scrappy.
“My putter really bailed me out on the front nine, then I found a bit more of a groove on the back. Wilson and me battled back and forth all day, but it was good to come out on top,” Armstrong said.
“I was really impressed with how they got the course in pretty good shape. I played here a week earlier, it was soaked and played super long with standing water all over. This week, the greens were still at bit slow, but overall the course definitely played a lot better.”
The fact his first pro victory came here wasn’t really the plan, as Armstrong was due to play on the PGA’s Canadian Mackenzie Tour this season. However, COVID-19 foiled that, which meant he had to find a new schedule for the summer.
“I spent last winter playing out of Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in Mesa, Arizona to get ready for this season,” he said.
“So when (the tour) got scrapped, I went to find some events and it’s so awesome that Alberta Golf was able to continue.”
While he wasn’t planning on playing a lot more this summer, he is looking forward to playing in some rescheduled Mackenzie tour events — two on Vancouver Island this month and two more in Toronto this September.
For Alberta Golf, the hot weather meant exceptional conditions that helped with the first-class event hosted by Wolf Creek Golf Resort.
“We’d like to thank the players for making a fantastic week. You made it so enjoyable and we witnessed some great golf,” said Wolf Creek head pro Aaron Miller.
“We love hosting these type of events and I want to thank all of our staff and especially the grounds crew, who worked morning and night during the event and in the lead up to it. As well, a huge thank you goes out to all of the volunteers from the surrounding area that came to help, because without them we couldn’t put on such a good event.”
The sweltering temperatures for the event matched many of the golfers that had their irons and putters firing on all cylinders. However, only one local area golfer managed to make it into the final round of 66 golfers with the cut line set at 14-over.
Lacombe’s Brady McKinlay finished up at five-over, but was consistent throughout shooting 73, 73 and 72.
Ponoka’s Tim Boston struggled, missing the cut at 33-over, while Sam Hancik from Sylvan Lake — who’s home course is Wolf Creek — also missed the cut after carding a score of 29-over.
Bentley’s Liam McKeen, who also calls Wolf Creek his home course — was middle-of-the-pack at seven-over following the opening round, but fell well back to 18-over in round two to miss the cut.