KELOWNA – SPORTS — With his dad on the bag, it was a special Father’s Day for George Cunningham as he picked up his maiden Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada victory, at the GolfBC Championship. He carded a 5-under 66 to win by two shots.
After his career-low round of 9-under 62 in the third round, Cunningham started the final round with a three-shot lead. Sunday, he started with four consecutive pars, before carding a birdie-eagle stretch on Nos. 5-6. He added an additional birdie on the par-5 ninth hole to make the turn at 19-under, holding a two-shot advantage. Coming down the stretch, with his closest competitor, P.J. Samiere, making bogey at the last, Cunningham sealed the deal by sticking a wedge from 91 yards to three feet for a birdie putt he made. It was good enough to finish at 20-under for a two-shot victory.
With his grandparents also in the gallery, it was a Father’s Day to remember for the Cunninghams. His grandparents, John and Carlotta Cunningham, drove close to 2,630km from their home in Tucson, Ariz., to watch their grandson play.
“On the 18th hole, my dad told me to make the putt and count it as his Father’s Day gift,” said Cunningham with a smile. “I guess I got that out of the way.”
The 22-year-old is a father himself, to three-year-old daughter Charlotte.
“I’m really excited to tell my daughter,” said Cunningham. “I’m excited to call her and talk to her about my win. I know she’s excited for me to come home. I’ll be home after the next event.”
Cunningham earned his first Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada victory in just his third professional start. The 22-year-old competed as an amateur at this season’s Q-School USA West No. 2 in Phoenix, where he finished third. Shortly after graduating in May from the University of Arizona, he turned pro and missed the cut in the first two events of the season—in Vancouver and Victoria.
“After the first two weeks, I knew I was going to need something special this week, and I did,” said Cunningham. “That’s what everyone is playing for, and I just came out on top this week.”
With his win, Cunningham moves to No. 4 on the Order of Merit, with $36,000 in earnings. Zach Wright claimed the top earnings’ spot after his runner-up finish. He’s pocketed $41,900 this season.
Did You Know George Cunningham
Earned his first Mackenzie Tour- PGA Tour Canada victory in just his third start after turning pro?
Since the tournament’s inception in 2016, all 54-hole leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win the event: Dan McCarthy (2016), Robby Shelton (2017) and George Cunningham (2018).
All three winners from the 2018 Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada season were leading after 54 holes: Jordan Niebrugge, at the Freedom 55 Financial Open, Sam Fidone at the Bayview Place DCBank Open presented by Times Colonist and George Cunningham at the GolfBC Championship.
After a runner-up finish in the first tournament of the season, at the Freedom 55 Financial Open, Zach Wright added another runner-up finish this week.
The lowest 72-hole score in tournament history is the 25-under 259 carded by Dan McCarthy in 2016.
Jared du Toit was the low-Canadian this week, finishing fifth, at 16-under 268.
Adam Cornelson is the last Canadian to win on this Tour. He earned his victory at the 2016 Bayview Place DCBank Open presented by Times Colonist
George Cunningham became the youngest winner this season, at 22 years, 10 months, 3 days.
“I was obviously upset coming off the 17th hole, but I couldn’t be that upset. I didn’t choke. I hit a tee shot that was perfect, and it went through the fairway. I hit the putt about half-an-inch short. As far as nerves go, it was the same as the last four holes. I knew I was near the lead. Once I hit my tee shot on 18, I hit it just how I wanted to, and it made me feel a little better. I felt a little calmer, and when P.J bogeyed, a little sigh of relief as well.” – George Cunningham on his closing holes
“They didn’t show up for the first two events, so I’m really happy that they are here. My grandma is my good luck charm. I love having them come out and watch, and they’re staying for another few events. They’re excited to watch me no matter how I finish and winning made it that much more special.” – George Cunningham on having his grandparents at the tournament
“At the end of the day, I did a lot of good things. I hit the ball really well. Made a couple early, which I would’ve hoped got [Cunningham] thinking a little bit, but [it] turns out it didn’t. Not much you can do about that.” – Jared du Toit
“I was in the mix, seven of my last eight rounds. These guys are pretty good out here, so pretty happy with all that. Hopefully I can keep the trend going, get myself in the mix and keep knocking on the door for that elusive victory” – Jared du Toit
“There are a lot of people that I’ve known through a bunch of people. They’re out here, and they have a connection either through my hometown or someone I know. The more support the better, and I had plenty of it today.” – Jared du Toit
“I feel really good about my game. I’m just trying to get everything out of it. It’s four days, and it’s a marathon. I’ve been doing well.” – Zach Wright
Tournament Fast Fact
The GolfBC Championship is the final event of the BC Golf Swing, which consists of three tournament locations in the province of British Columbia. In its inaugural year in 2016, Dan McCarthy won this tournament by seven shots, with a 25-under total. Robby Shelton won the following year in wire-to-wire fashion, at 19-under.
Final-Round Weather Report
Mostly sunny. High of 28 Celsius, with wind at 10km/h.
Next Week: Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada travels to Lethbridge, Alberta, for the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open.