July 14, 2012
Richmond Hill, Ontario - NC State rising junior and Toronto native Albin Choi earning the victory at The Investors Group Ontario Amateur championship on Friday following a single hole playoff at Summit Golf and Country Club.
The Team Canada member led the tournament through the first three days and teed up his final round with a four-shot advantage. As the round progressed, several players made a charge to try and catch the 20-year-old former Canadian Amateur champion, setting the stage for an exciting finish. Choi was able to hold onto his frontrunner status all the way through to the 72nd and final hole of the tournament, when Mackenzie Hughes caught up to him and forced a playoff, while Corey Conners came within two shots of Choi and Hughes.
"I had a four shot lead standing on 16 tee," said Choi. "Mackenzie and Corey just happened to birdie those holes and I came out with a par but I was still feeling pretty comfortable with a three-shot lead."
"I hit a good shot on 17 that decided to take a big hop over the green that led to a bogey. Mackenzie made a great putt off the fringe which made it a two-shot swing and on 18, he caught me."
The playoff was short lived however, with Choi hitting a monster drive and well placed approach shot, then rolling in a putt for par to clinch the victory.
"It was just the blood flowing, when you're in such a great spot you're really in the moment and you do things you normally wouldn't do," said Choi of his strong performance through the extra hole.
"I had a great drive off there and a great approach shot. Ii would have been nice if I'd made the putt to finish in fashion and I really didn't think Mackenzie was going to miss his second putt," he explained. "You never know what can happen in this game and I'm just glad I was the lucky one."
The Beacon Hall member carded an even par final round (71) for a four day 8-under par total of 276 (67-69-69-71) adding an Ontario Amateur title to his already stacked golf resume that includes his 2010 Canadian national amateur victory and his win in May at the 2012 NCAA Regional.
"I'd love to win every single tournament that I play in, but being Canadian and being from Ontario means that I'm more than happy to have these two titles under my belt," said Choi.
This was also an emotional win for Choi, who lost his mother seven months ago. Although surrounded by family and friends throughout the week, he wished he could have shared this victory with his mother.
"It's been a rough couple of months. It's been really hard for me and my family to deal with it but I got back on my feet and this one is for her," he said.
"Unfortunately she wasn't here to see it but I'm sure she's watching from somewhere. It has made me a stronger person and I'll definitely use this as fuel to further my career."
Choi will now prepare to play in a US Amateur qualifying tournament next week before trying for a second Canadian Amateur title later this summer. He will also play at the PGA TOUR's RBC Canadian Open in two weeks for the second-straight year.
Making the biggest move on Friday was Hughes, who posted a 4-under 67 to climb up into a tie with Choi atop the leaderboard. Despite his strong effort a bogey on the first playoff hole gave him runner-up honours for the championship. The reigning Canadian Men's Amateur champion finished alongside Choi at 276 (68-69-72-67). Hughes will now have a week to focus on making his PGA Tour debut at the RBC Canadian Open, an exemption he earned through his 2011 national amateur victory.
Hughes' Kent State teammate Conners finished alone in third place at 6-under 278.
Choi, Hughes and Conners, all members of Team Canada, will represent Ontario in the Willingdon Cup inter-provincial team competition at the 2012 Canadian Amateur Championship set to take place August 7-10 at Camelot Golf & Country Club and Club de golf Outaouais.
Former Wolfpacker Graham Baillargeon posted a strong performances throughout the week to finish tied for fifth at 3-under 281, while rising senior Mitchell Sutton placed in a tie for 11th at 4-over 288.