Syracuse native beats Vancouver’s Ryan Williams by seven shots

BY BRAD ZIEMER

KELOWNA — This much is clear three weeks into the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada season: Dan is The Man.

Dan McCarthy, a 30-year-old pro from Syracuse, N.Y., coasted to his second win of the season Sunday as captured the inaugural GolfBC Championship by seven strokes. He finished the 72-hole event at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club at 25-under par.

McCarthy bagged plenty of birdies Sunday, which was nothing new. He’s been doing that all year. McCarthy tied for sixth place in Victoria last week after winning the tour opener the previous week in Vancouver.

In three tournaments this year, McCarthy has combined to go 50-under par. In doing so, he has built himself a huge lead atop of the Mackenzie Tour money list. If he can hang onto that top spot, he will have full status next year on the Web.com Tour.

“I couldn’t have pictured a better start,” McCarthy said after completing his seven-under 64 on Sunday. “I am not going  to say that locks it up, but I think that takes care of the top five. Now the goal is finish No. 1 and be fully exempt out there next year. I am going to hope to bottle this up for a very long time.”

All 12 of McCarthy’s rounds this year on the Mackenzie Tour have been under par and all but one have been in the 60s. 

McCarthy’s seven-stroke margin of victory is the largest since the PGA Tour took over operation of the Canadian Tour in 2013.

Vancouver’s Ryan Williams, who began the day two shots behind McCarthy, finished alone in second place at 18-under par. He closed with a two-under 69.

The par 4 10th hole — a par 5 for members at Gallagher’s Canyon — had played as the toughest hole all week. And it bit Williams in a big way in Sunday’s final round.

Williams pulled his hybrid approach shot left of the green into long grass, was barely able to move the ball with his third shot and ended up making a triple-bogey. That dropped him six shots behind McCarthy and pretty much ended any hope of winning the tourney.

“I was on the right side of the fairway and there was mud on the back side of my ball,” Williams said. “If I could go over it again I would probably take one club less or maybe take a little bit more of a conservative target than I did. I am a fader of the golf ball, I don’t turn the ball right to left, and that ball just turned hard right to left on me and got into the trees.”

It probably didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The way McCarthy was playing, no one was going to catch him.

“He played flawless golf tee to green, putted exceptionally well, it was just a solid performance by him,” Williams said of McCarthy. “It was going to be hard to beat him, put it that way.”

After a couple of days of ugly weather, the sun broke through on Sunday and the crowds came out. A large gallery followed the final twosome of Williams and McCarthy and surrounded the 18th green.

McCarthy, who earned $31,500 for the win, now leads the money list with $68,863. It is hard to imagine that he was fighting to retain his Mackenzie Tour card last year, when he needed a tie for fourth in Cape Breton to move inside the top 60.

“This is a body of work,” he said. “I just didn’t wake up one day three weeks ago and all of sudden started playing like this. I have played well for a very long time. Unfortunately, I haven’t played well at very important times like in Q school or final groups in past years on this tour. Again, it is a body of work that is all coming together.”

Williams had to sink a six-foot putt for par on the 18th hole to finish solo second, which was worth $18,900. He also received a $2,500 bonus from Freedom 55 Financial for being the top Canadian. He is now third on the money list with $25,953. Those finishing second through fifth on the money list at year’s end receive  conditional status on the 2017 Web.com Tour.

“It is good start to the year,” said Williams, who finished one shot ahead of third-place finisher Caleb Sturgeon of South Carolina. “Being able to win Canadian Player of the Week two of three weeks to start the year is very rewarding.”

Victoria’s Cory Renfrew tied for fifth at 14-under par after shooting a 69 on Sunday and earned $6,387. Renfrew was a little frustrated by a bogey-bogey finish to his final round.

“I grinded hard all day,” Renfrew said. “It’s obviously disappointing to finish with a couple of bogeys. That is just the way it goes. I worked hard, I felt like my game was pretty good all week. I just made too many bogeys today.”

Langley’s Adam Cornelson, last week’s winner in Victoria, closed with a three-under 68 and finished tied for 21st at 10-under par. Seann Harlingten of West Vancouver also finished at 10-under after his 69 Sunday.

CHIP SHOTS: GolfBC announced the tournament raised $150,000 for the B.C. Cancer Foundation. The Mackenzie Tour takes next week off before resuming June 23-26 for the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open in Saskatoon.