Jean-Philip Cornellier won’t soon be forgetting his first win as a professional.
The 26-year-old from the Club de Golf de Knowlton in Knowlton, Que., captured the PGA Championship of Canada in dramatic fashion Thursday afternoon at Deer Ridge Golf Club in Kitchener, Ont.
Cornellier outduelled Bryn Parry of Vancouver’s Point Grey Golf and Country Club, sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18 hole to win 2-up.
“This is just a great feeling to have my first win as a professional come at the PGA Championship of Canada,” said Cornellier. “It means a lot to me to have my name on the same trophy as so many legends.”
Past champions of the PGA Championship of Canada include Moe Norman, George Knudson, Danny King, Dave Levesque, Steve Stricker, Parry, Al Balding, Bob Panasik, Tim Clark, Lanny Wadkins, Jim Rutledge, Wilf Homenuik, Stan Leonard, Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer.
Cornellier struck for six birdies through nine holes and found himself 6-up over the 2013 PGA Championship of Canada winner with just eight to play.
“I was just in an amazing zone and the hole looked like the size of a basketball hoop,” said Cornellier.
A combination of four-straight bogeys and a Parry birdie on the 15th saw Cornellier’s lead shrink to just 1-up with three to play.
“Once I got it to just three down, I just told myself to hit good shots and see if I could put some pressure on him, make him nervous and find out if he could hold on for the win,” said Parry.
For the first time all week, Cornellier admitted he did feel nervous.
“After a while, I started thinking, ‘What is happening out here? Is this really happening?’” Cornellier admitted. “But I just had to say to myself, ‘Stay calm, you’re still leading this match and put the ball in play.’”
Both players halved holes 16 and 17 with pars before reaching the Deer Ridge’s final hole, the tree-lined 510-yard par five 18th.
Parry’s drive found the centre of the fairway, while Cornellier’s tee shot missed wide right, finding the trees.
“On 18 I was 1-up, so why not hit driver? With a good drive I’ll hit the green in two, make birdie and it’s probably over,” said Cornellier.
“And with a bad drive, I could always pitch out, hit the green in three and make birdie the old way,” he added.
After pitching out from the right trees into the fairway, Cornellier found himself with 154-yards to the pin. He took a bold line with his nine iron, hitting his approach to 15 feet.
After Parry failed to get up-and-down for birdie from behind the green, Cornellier calmly rolled his putt into the cup to secure the victory.
“That was a nice finishing birdie and a cool way to win,” Parry said.
Cornellier takes home the P.D. Ross Trophy and the first place prize of $15,000.
Parry may have lost in the championship final of the PGA Championship of Canada, but getting there made him the winner of an exemption into the RBC Canadian Open later this year at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont.
Parry will jump to the top of the player rankings when they’re released Friday and earn the PGA of Canada exemption into the RBC Canadian Open.
In the third place match, Nick Kenney outlasted Marc Hurtubise, winning on the 19th hole.
The next PGA national championship takes place this August at Burlington Golf and Country Club for the Mr. Lube PGA Seniors’ Championship of Canada.