American Robby Shelton hoists the winner’s trophy Sunday at Gallagher’s Canyon. -Image: Warren Henderson

Shelton claims GolfBC Championship

21-year-old from Alabama wins first pro golf title Sunday at Gallagher’s Canyon

American Robby Shelton sunk a birdie putt on the 18th hole Sunday at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf and Country Club to win the 2017 GolfBC Championship by one stroke over three other players.

The 21-year-old from Wilmer, Alabama led from wire-to-wire, posting a 19-under score in the third tournament of the season on the Mackenzie Tour.

Fellow Americans Johnny Ruiz, Cody Blick and Adam Webb all finished one shot back.

For Shelton, who has played in six tournaments this season on the PGA Tour, it was his first professional win.

“It means a lot,” said Shelton, a former standout at the University of Alabama. “Just to win anywhere is so exciting. Just to know my game’s there and has been for the last month or two, to finally get this win is great.”

Shelton began the day with a three-stroke lead over Webb, but quickly found himself in a four-way battle for the title as Webb, Blick and Ruiz made their charges. It was Ruiz who charged hardest, making birdie at 14 and 15 to take the solo lead at 19-under.

Unbeknownst to Shelton, Ruiz caught a bad break at 18 when his tee shot nestled up against a pine tree that guards the approach to the green and was forced to play his second shot left-handed, eventually making bogey to fall into a tie for the clubhouse lead with Blick.

“I had no idea. Looking up on the scoreboard, it said 19-under (through 17), and I thought for sure he parred this hole,” said Shelton, who took driver off the tee in an attempt to make birdie and found the thick rough left of the fairway, 65 yards from the pin.

“I pulled it a little,” said Shelton of his drive. “My lie wasn’t great, but I just knew I had to land it on the green and roll out to the pin.”

He executed the shot to perfection, however, rolling the ball to within seven feet of the tucked back-right pin and giving him a birdie putt that he unwittingly had for his first Mackenzie Tour win.

“Over the putt, I thought I had to make it to go into a playoff,” said Shelton, who poured the putt in the middle of the hole to the roar of the crowd that knew what he didn’t – that he had just won the GolfBC Championship.

“Somebody told me when I was walking off the green that I won, and then it hit me,” said Shelton. “I still have to play well the rest of this season, but to get a win early on is huge and does a lot for my confidence.”

The win puts Shelton atop the Order of Merit through three events, in position to earn Tour status for the 2018 season.

Meanwhile, Gallagher’s Canyon director of golf Chris Trunzer made the cut and finished in a tie for 68th overall at 1-over par, 285.

Matt Hopley, a 15-year-old member at Gallagher’s, earned a sponsor’s exemption for the tournament and finished below the cutline at 150 (75-75).

A Grade 9 student at Immaculata Regional High School, Hopley was grateful for the opportunity make his first appearance at a professional event.

See the results from the GolfBC Championship HERE.

GolfBC for charity…

The GolfBC Group announced a total of $150,000 was raised for charity at the GolfBC Championship.

With the help of generous donors and a significant contribution by the Chan Family Foundation, the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada event raised $150,000 which was awarded to the tournament’s designated charity, the BC Cancer Foundation and the Red Cross Kelowna flood relief.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the volunteers, corporate sponsors, and golf fans in Kelowna and the entire Okanagan Valley,” said tournament director Hugh Vassos. “We are especially proud of the tremendous contribution to our chosen charities. The second annual GolfBC Championship is in the books as a success and the tournament continues to grow as one of the best on the Mackenzie Tour.”

“The goal of every Mackenzie Tour event is to create a positive impact in the communities where we play, and thanks to the hard work of the GolfBC Group, GolfBC Championship volunteers and Gallagher’s Canyon Golf and Country Club along with the generosity of the Chan Family, this donation will ensure the event makes a difference in people’s lives,” said Mackenzie Tour President Jeff Monday. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for the event’s first year, and we look forward to making an even greater impact for years to come.”

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