In two weeks, Vancouver Island University freshman Anthony Trozzo will wrap up his rookie golf season by playing for the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championship.
That’s pretty heady stuff for a guy who wasn’t even enrolled in school when the season began.
“I’ve been golfing since I was nine or 10 years old and always dreamed of playing university golf,” said Trozzo, a 2016 Kwalikum Secondary School grad who was recruited three weeks ago by the Nanaimo university’s coaching staff while working in the pro shop at Eaglecrest Golf Club. “To go to the other side of Canada and play in the national championship is surreal. It hasn’t even sunk in yet.”
Trozzo and his VIU teammates staged a big rally on the back nine Sunday during the VIU Invitational tournament at Parksville's Morningstar Golf Club to clinch the school’s first national-tournament berth since 2012. Trailing by four strokes entering the round, the Mariners rode a 3-under par effort by Robbie Podesta and several other strong finishes to clinch the Pac West’s third and final berth to the Oct. 17-21 CCAA nationals in Charlottetown, PEI.
“That’s always to goal, to qualify for nationals,” said Kevin Oates, VIU men’s coach and CPGA head professional at Morningstar Golf Club. “This year, with some good play on the back nine Sunday, we ended up finishing third by three shots. That was a big deal.”
Kyler Bourgeault of Qualicum Beach and Podesta, a fellow senior from Powell River, tied for seventh at 2-over par 146 to lead VIU in the 36-hole tournament, the final tourney in the Pac West fall season. Teammate Dallas Jones was two strokes back in ninth as the Mariners shot a total of 602 and overtook Langara College for the final nationals berth.
Kyler Bourgeault of Qualicum Beach, playing for Vancouver Island University, blasts from a greenside bunker on the 14th hole at Morningstar Golf Club during the opening round of the 2016 Pac West College Golf Championship Saturday. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS
Halen Davis of the University of Fraser Valley posted his first victory of the season with a 140. Jacob Vanderpas of Langara was one of three players tied for second at 143, which was enough to give him his first overall league championship by five strokes over James Casorso of UBC-Okanagan.
Trozzo did not light up the leaderboard, shooting a 167 to tie for 32nd in the 33-golfer tourney. But he was part of Sunday’s back-nine charge with a 1-over 37. More importantly, he was available to fill a crucial spot on the five-man team when two prospective Mariners players were found to be academically ineligible on the eve of the season’s first tourney.
“It was 48 hours before our first tournament and we only had four guys on the roster,” said Oates. “We knew Tony was around, but he wasn’t even in school at the time. We had to get him into classes.”
Trozzo, who helped Kwalikum Secondary School to the B.C. AA provincial championship this spring, had planned to work through the fall and enrol at VIU in January. The golf team’s need accelerated those plans.
“Three Sundays ago I was working, and they came in and said, ‘We could really use you,’” Trozzo said. “They said the deadline for getting in classes was in two days. The next day they called me back and said, ‘You need to be here tomorrow to be eligible.’”
Trozzo enrolled in English, psychology and history courses, saying he wanted to ensure he didn’t waste a year of his golf eligibility by taking classes that wouldn’t help him toward his eventual bachelor of arts degree.
Crediting the mentorship of coach Butch Gayton during his years with the KSS soccer and golf academies, Trozzo said he hopes one day to teach phys ed and, ideally, coach younger students as well.
After missing the first two tournaments of the season while getting enrolled and establishing his eligibility, he placed 21st with a 36-hole total of 156 in the Duncan College Invitational Sept. 24-25.
The following week he was at Morningstar with the program’s season on the line. His next tournament will be the national championship.
“It’s so much coming at once,” he said. “As a first-year student on the varsity team, I didn’t expect to have to make an impact. My experience at KSS got me used to team play, but this is definitely a step up. The golfers are so good.”
Trozzo said he is most happy that the several seniors on the team were finally able to advance to the national championship for the first time after years of falling short.
“Their first year, their team wasn’t built as good as ours and they didn’t get the opportunity, even though they were probably better then than I am now,” he said. “”It’s so crazy to have it happen like this.”
At the same time he is trying to get up to speed from a late start on the golf course, Trozzo is also playing catch-up in the classroom.
“I’m still trying to get used to homework. I wasn’t expecting homework until January, and now I’ve got midterms coming up, he said. “It’s a lot of stress, but it’s worth it.”
Vancouver Island University Invitational Tournament
at Morningstar Golf Club
Men’s team results
1. Camosun College 588; 2. University of Fraser Valley 596; 3. Langara College 601; 4. Vancouver Island University 602; 5. UBC-Okanagan 608; Douglas College 639.
Halen Davis, Fraser Valley 69-71—140
James Casorso, UBCO 77-66—143
Jeff Riches, Camosun 71-72—143
Jacob Vanderpas, Langara 72-71—143
Matt Matheson, Camosun 70-74—144
Jacob Stewart, UBCO 74-70—144
Kyler Bourgeault, VIU 72-74—146
Robbie Potesta, VIU 73-73—146
Dallas Jones, VIU 73-75—148
Connor O’Dell, Fraser Valley 72-76—148
Scott Merriam, Camosun 75-74—149
Zachary Olson, Fraser Valley 72-78—150
Mac Keats, Camosun 73-80—153
Samual Fowler, Langara 81-73—154
Taylor Burns, Langara 77-78—155
Mike Flegel, Camosun 74-71—155
Taylor Seidel, Langara 75-80—155
Mitchell Ball, Langara 75-82—157
Grant Dollevoet, UBCO 79-78—157
Steven Hayes, Douglas 78-79—157
Jordan Balogh-Callow, Langara 82-76—158
Kaleb Fisher, Fraser Valley 79-79—158
Daniel Porter, Douglas 78-80—158
Johnny Dial, VIU 80-80—160
Nathan Bahnman, Fraser Valley 81-80—161
Ryan August, Douglas 79-83—162
Josh Legge, Douglas 75-87—162
Keaton Spence, Douglas 81-81—162
Derek Graham, UBCO 80-85—165
Jacob Bland, VIU 81-85—166
Naoki Takahashi, UBCO 79-87—166
Tony Trozzo, VIU 86-81—167
Travis LeClair, Douglas 80-87—167