By Brad Ziemer
KELOWNA — They were playing golf but Noah Goodwin and Scott Stevens went at it like a pair of heavyweight boxers in the final round of the GolfBC Championship, punching and counter-punching their way around Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club.
The knockout blow was finally delivered on the 18th green as Goodwin, a 22-year-old Texan, rolled in a five-foot putt for birdie and his second win of the PGA Tour Canada season.
“It was an absolute dogfight out there between me and Scott,” Goodwin said. “I know we were both loving every second of it.”
Goodwin won with a total of 23-under after closing with a seven-under 64. He and Stevens, who shot a 65, were paired together and staged quite the battle, especially on the back nine.
“We made two birdie putts on 15,” Goodwin said. “He made the first one from a little bit further and then I covered him up. We both looked at each other and were laughing, we were smiling, we were having a blast out there. That is what golf is at the end of the day. We all want to win playing against guys who are playing just as good as you are. He definitely pushed me to keep going today and if I wasn’t playing with him I don’t know how today would have turned out, but it was a blast being out there.”
Goodwin won it after his sand wedge from 113 yards settled about five feet underneath the hole on the 18th green. Before he made his birdie putt, he watched Stevens lip out his birdie attempt from about 25 feet.
“I hit a great putt, just hit the low edge and lipped out,” Stevens said. “Gave it a great effort.”
Goodwin, who hails from Corinth, Tex., won the Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Ontario Open in late July. His GolfBC Championship win moved him to third on the Fortinet Cup points list and he is in great position heading into the season-ending Fortinet Cup Championship in Kitchener, Ont., to earn status on next year’s Korn Ferry Tour.
“It’s wild,” Goodwin said. “I got off to a rough start this year, but I knew my game was good. I knew I was working on all the right things. Winning is hard, a lot of luck comes involved with that. This one definitely feels different from my one in Ontario.
“In Ontario everything kind of clicked me for that week, I didn’t have a whole lot of trouble or issues. I just played some fantastic golf and it was a week that doesn’t really come around too often. . .this week is special, I really grinded it out, I gutted it out. My allergies have kind of been bothering me. I played without a nose this week, just breathing through my mouth. But it was a blast in a lot of ways. I am never going to forget this one.”
Goodwin’s success this year on the PGA Tour Canada circuit should come as no surprise. He was a junior golf phenom, winning the U.S. Junior Amateur as a 17-year-old, one year after losing the same tourney in the championship final. He had a great collegiate career at Southern Methodist University and could have walked onto the Korn Ferry Tour in the spring of 2021 via the PGA Tour University program, but chose to remain at college and earn his degree.
One of his SMU teammates, childhood friend Phillip Choi, carried his bag this week at Gallagher’s.
Goodwin wasn’t convinced he’d made his five-footer for the win when he stroked the putt that dropped in the side door.
““It wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked, it wasn’t dead centre and in the whole way,” Goodwin said. “I kind of took a step to the side after I hit it because I really didn’t know if it was going to lip-in or lip-out.”
Goodwin, who is the first multiple-winner this year, earned $36,000 for the win.
Stevens, a Chattanooga, Tenn. native who won the season-opening event at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria, said he enjoyed the final round almost as much as Goodwin.
“It was an awesome day, especially on the back nine as we both got it going,” said Stevens, who is now fourth on the points list. “It was probably one of the more fun rounds I’ve ever had on the golf course. Just the battle that we had, we were making birdies and eagles and we were both playing really good golf and he definitely won it.”
With a win and a second-place finish, Stevens has fallen in love with British Columbia.
“I don’t know, I guess it’s just good vibes here, it is beautiful here. I love the mountains. I am just in a good frame of mind here. I love this place.”
Cameron Sisk of San Diego finished alone in third place at 21-under after his 64 on Sunday.
Two Canadians finished inside the top 10. Joey Savoie and Étienne Papineau, both of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., tied for eighth at 16-under par.
Californian Jake Knapp, the 2019 GolfBC Championship winner, also tied for eighth and now leads the Fortinet Cup points list.