Brock Mackenzie can now exhale.
It didn’t come without drama, but the former U.S. amateur star is finally a Canadian Tour champion.
In a wet final round at the $250,000 Times Colonist Open in Victoria, B.C., Mackenzie sunk a long birdie putt on the final hole to close with a four-under 66 and a 14-under 266 total for the tournament.
That gave him a one-shot win over Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C. (63) and California sophomore Aaron Goldberg (66).
Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C. gave the leaders something to think about by lighting it up for a course-record nine-under 61 for an early 11-under total.
For a while, it looked like Sloan would flirt with the largest final-round come-from-behind victory in Canadian Tour history, which was set in 2001 when Brian Payne overcame a five-shot deficit to knock off Jason Bohn at the Aliant Cup in St. John’s, Nfld.
Sloan would eventually settle for fourth with fellow British Columbian James Allenby (66).
After several achingly close calls, Mackenzie will at last get his name etched on a Canadian Tour championship trophy.
In 2006, the native of nearby Washington State had back-to-back runner-up finishes, including a playoff defeat to Wes Heffernan at the Montreal Open.
After spending two seasons on the Nationwide Tour, Mackenzie returned north in 2009, finishing fourth at the Uplands last summer.
As an amateur, Mackenzie compiled a resume that included All-American honours at the University of Washington, the 2002 Pacific Coast Amateur crown and a Walker Cup title as a member of the victorious U.S. team in 2003.
Now, he can add another piece of hardware to the trophy case.
“Oh man, you have no idea,” said Mackenzie of the weight lifted off his shoulder with the victory.
“Aaron and I really put on a show on that back nine. If we had played another hole, he probably would have tied it. I’m just glad I was able to dig down and finally pull one of these out,” he said.
“I guess if you put yourself in contention enough times, eventually it will happen.”
Mackenzie bogeyed two of his first three holes and fell off the top of the leaderboard for the first time since midway through the second round.
Trailing by two shots with five holes to go, MacKenzie dug in his heels and, after a Goldberg bogey on 14, pulled even with a birdie on the par four 15th.
Seconds later, Hadwin, playing three groups ahead, drained a birdie putt on the par three 17th to put the pressure on the final pairing. MacKenzie answered with a birdie on 16, before Goldberg did the same on 17.
On the 72nd hole of the tournament, with Hadwin looking on, Mackenzie rolled in a clutch 25-foot downhill putt and did a slow fist pump. Seconds later, Goldberg’s attempt from just inside where Mackenzie was came up a foot short.
“That was probably about as much emotion as I’ve ever showed on the golf course,” Mackenzie said of his fist pump.
“More than anything, it makes all the hard work and struggles worth it. It’s a great way to start the Canadian swing and hopefully, this will be a stepping stone to get back to where I want to be,” he added.