By Brad Ziemer
On the first anniversary of his Mom’s death, John Mlikotic made his first cut on the Mackenzie Tour.
Mlikotic does not think it was a coincidence. His Mom, Natalia, who passed away after a short battle with cancer on June 14th of last year, was with him every step of the way in Friday’s second round of the GolfBC Championship at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club. Mlikotic said his Mom’s sudden passing has put things in perspective for him. He loves golf, but knows there are other things much more important.
Those thoughts, he said, helped him make the biggest birdie of his young professional golf life on his 18th hole Friday to make the cut on the number.
“That kind of put things in perspective for me,” he said of his Mom’s passing. “I just kept telling myself, there is more to life than golf and not to worry about it, and I think that kind of helped me get through the day and not stress too much. “At the end of the day golf is not the end-all or mean-all for me. I am glad that kept me calm and that I am on the right side of the cut this time.”
This is Mlikotic’s third Mackenzie Tour event. He missed the cut in his previous two starts, including a heart-breaker three years ago at the GolfBC Championship when he missed by just one shot.
For most of Friday, it looked like he would finish comfortably inside the cutline. But two late bogeys on his 16th and 17th holes of the day dropped him to even-par for the tournament. He needed to birdie the par 5 ninth hole — his 18th of the day — to make the weekend.
“I birdied six and then I felt fine, but I just made a couple of loose swings coming in on seven and eight and wasn’t able to make any par saves there,” he said. “I told my caddie I didn’t want to know what the cut was. I forced myself not to look at the leaderboard all day. But I thought maybe I was close. I felt like I had to make birdie on the last hole. I had about a 12-footer and just kept my head down and rolled it in the heart.”
The 26-year-old Mlikotic is playing on a sponsor’s exemption. He has worked in the Gallagher’s Canyon golf shop for many years and has conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour this year.
The Simon Fraser University graduate knows a good weekend would help when the tour does its reshuffle after the sixth event of the season. A top-20 finish this week would also get him into next week’s event in Lethbridge, Alta.
“I hope to get hot here the next two days and move up the leaderboard and go from there,” he said.