At age 63, Brian De Biasio admits he is no longer at the peak of his physical prowess on the golf course. But the former B.C. and Canadian Mid-Amateur champion is not content simply to represent his home club when the 114th B.C. Amateur Golf Championship comes to Pheasant Glen Golf Resort in Qualicum Beach next week.
“I’m at the end of my career now; I don’t have any expectations,” De Biasio said, before turning up a corner of his mouth in a wry grin. “But those who know me would say I’m fairly competitive. I don’t go down without a fight. If I’m going to play, I’m going to compete.”
De Biasio, who moved to the Parksville Qualicum Beach region nearly five years ago after a career as a teacher and school administrator in Interior B.C., clearly still has the competitive juices. He has won four straight club championships at Pheasant Glen since adopting it as his home club, and will bring a combination of that home-course knowledge and years of high-level competition experience against the young guns expected to contend for the title.
“Most of the young guys will knock it by me,” De Biasio admits. “For me, it comes down to can I stay calm, and can I make a few putts? When you play on your own golf course you know how it fits with your game. I’m not going to be coming to any tee box wondering, ‘What do I want to do here?’ It all leads to a comfort level, but there’s no substitute for execution.”
De Biasio has never won the B.C. Amateur, though he did finish second to 13-time champion Doug Roxburgh one year and placed third on another occasion.
“I’ve had my knocks,” he said.
He and the rest of the field will again be knocking heads with Roxburgh, the Canadian Golf Hall-of-Famer who will be playing in his 50th consecutive B.C. Amateur Championship.
A recently minted retiree who plays golf three times a week and only periodically enters tournaments, De Biasio knows he faces a stiff challenge from young players who spend far more time on the course both playing and competing.
“More than likely the winner of this is going to be a college kid,” De Biasio said. “Yes, Doug Roxburgh has 13 wins and he’s played in 50, but physically, us older guys are not in our prime. Back in our day, Doug and I were playing a tournament every week.
“Now, you’re not in that competitive environment. But these young guys are in the prime of their career, and they’ve been playing competitive golf all season long.”
Brayden Eriksen, a 22-year-old Pheasant Glen member who turned pro after placing 14th in last year’s B.C. Amateur in Oliver, agreed.
“For a college golfer, it’s almost as much of a job as it is for a pro,” said Eriksen, who played at Utah Valley University. “If you’re not in class, you’re playing golf. And there’s a tournament every week.”
Between the students and the veterans like De Biasio and Roxburgh, there are a number of high-calibre 30-somethings, like perennial contender Kevin Carrigan of Victoria.
“He has decided no to play professionally, but he has the game to be a pro, and he’s around 30,” De Biasio said of Carrigan. “That’s a guy who’s going to have a shot.”
The championship begins Tuesday morning at Pheasant Glen and will continue through the final round Friday, with a cut following the second round.
Before that, a one-day, 18-hole qualifying tournament to fill the final handful of spots in the 156-player field is scheduled for Sunday. And Monday is reserved for a practice round for the championship entrants — but you’re not likely to find De Biasio there.
“I’m playing for fun, three times a week, and now I have to go out there and walk four straight rounds, under the pressure of a tournament setting,” he said. “I’ll probably get my practice round in early in the weekend and then rest (Monday).”
But there will be no laying down on the job when the tournament tees off in earnest Tuesday.
“If a Doug Roxburgh or a Brian De Biasio can get through three rounds and be within a stroke or two going into the final round, than that experience can come into play,” De Biasio said. “The mental element can then be more of a factor than the physical.”
Spectators at next week’s championship are welcome and encouraged. Pheasant Glen Golf Resort is located at 1025 Qualicum Road in Qualicum Beach, off Rupert Road East. For more info, visit pheasantglen.com.