…Kelowna native off to Lethbridge to try and Monday qualify his way into next event

By Brad Ziemer

John Mlikotic got a taste of his first full PGA Tour Canada-Mackenzie Tour event and wants more.

So just a couple hours after finishing his fourth and final round of the GolfBC Championship at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club, Mlikotic was on his way to the airport for a flight to Calgary and a drive south to Lethbridge.

The Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open tees off on Thursday and Mlikotic hopes to play his way into the event via the Monday qualifier.

“I tee off at 9:20 Monday morning in the qualifier,” Mlikotic said. “It’s a very quick turnaround. Hopefully, I can get a little sleep tonight and continue this decent play and make some more cuts.”

Mlikotic closed with a one-under 70 Sunday to finish the GolfBC Championship at two-under par and tied for 55th place. He had missed the cut in two previous Mackenzie Tour starts, so this one had some special meaning to the 26-year-old Kelowna native and Simon Fraser University graduate.

“It was amazing,” Mlikotic said. I had a ton of fun this week, I am excited to have made the cut and put up some decent scores. I still feel like I can play better, but all in all just an amazing week. Without GolfBC and without Gallagher’s Canyon putting on this great event, it doesn’t happen. So thank you to both of them and I also want to thank tournament chairman Hugh Vassos and his team for giving me the exemption this week.”

Mlikotic has conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour but his number is not a good one, so he hasn’t been able to draw into any events. He plans to try and Monday qualify his way into the next three events. Any money he makes will help him when the tour does its reshuffle after the sixth event of the year in Toronto.

“I don’t know the exact amount I am going to have to make to shuffle into the last six events, but hopefully this is enough,” Mlikotic said. “If not, I hope I can make a couple more cuts in the next three events and get in there for the rest of the season.”

Mlikotic, who spent several years working in the Gallagher’s Canyon golf shop, played what he called steady golf this week.

“I think I was steady again today,” he said. “Very similar to yesterday, I just couldn’t seem to get anything going. I played very solid on the front. I had two birdies and no bogeys and it all kind of got halted with a freak three-putt on No. 11 from maybe 20 feet. That slowed down the round a bit, but I think I hit it nicely and actually putted a little better today. I didn’t get a whole lot out of the round. But all in all it was a lot of fun.”

Mlikotic will be playing blind at Monday’s qualifier at Picture Butte Golf Club.

“I haven’t seen it. I have just looked it up online and have planned it out. I have a family friend who lives out there I am staying with and he has played it a bunch of times, so he is going to be on the bag. So hopefully, I get some local knowledge from him.”

Mlikotic was one of four Canadians — all British Columbians — to make the cut at Gallagher’s Canyon.

Riley Wheeldon of Comox shot an even-par 71 Sunday and finished tied for 22nd at nine-under and earned a $2,500 bonus from Canada Life for being low Canadian.

“I didn’t hit it very good today,” Wheeldon said. “I didn’t hit nearly as well as I did the first three days. I got off to bad start. It would have been nice to get it going early and maybe get into contention.

“It is nice to have the bonus for low Canadian. There are lots of good Canadians out here. I just got lucky that a bunch had off weeks.”
Richmond amateur Chris Crisologo, the reigning B.C. Amateur champion, shot a two-over 73 Sunday and finished tied for 42nd place at four-under.

Kimberley’s Jared du Toit closed with a one-over 72 and finished tied for 63rd at two-over par. The best news of du Toit’s week came after his final round. He discovered his phone was missing and quickly returned to the first tee, where he found it still sitting on a table he had left it on before starting his round.