WINDSOR JUNCTION - It was a story-book ending Sunday for Roger Sloan.
The 27-year-old golf pro from Merritt, B.C., won the first-ever Nova Scotia Open, and his first-ever Web.Com Tour title, with an eight-foot par putt on the first hole of a sudden death playoff against Derek Fathauer of Jupiter, Fla.
It was the 37th hole of the day for a couple of tough competitors, but the exhausting two-round plus session under sunny skies at Ashburn Golf Club in Windsor Junction paid off for both.
Sloan won $117,000 and Fathauer pocketed $70,200 of the $650,000 total tournament purse.
After being presented with the trophy – and a giant cheque – the inaugural Nova Scotia Open winner posed for photos on the 18th hole, in front of awe-struck admirers. That included mom Cathy, who had shown up at Ashburn earlier in the week as a surprise, and he hugged in celebration as cameras clicked away.
Sloan also took a moment to embrace – and kiss – his glistening prize made by NovaScotian Crystal.
“I don’t know what feels better, to win or to finally be done today,” he joked to media when he finally sat down.
Sloan, who jumps to 12th on the tour money list, said he paid little attention to the leaderboard Sunday.
“I saw a leaderboard coming down my 8th hole, and I knew that I was tied with Derek at 11-under,” Sloan said.
“On the back nine, I had no idea,” he added. “I knew that if I just kind of focused one shot at a time, it was just kind of take care of itself.”
Sloan and Fathauer fought for the top spot through much of the final round, but spectators favoured the canuck with claps and cheers. One of Sloan’s biggest challenges came on the 17th hole of the final round, when he found himself down a hill and into the hazard.
He knocked it away from some tall weeds, with a little help from the wind.
“I hit it right away,” Sloan said. “As long as I could get a club on it, it was better than those weeds standing straight up.”
Sloan said he had wanted to win the Nova Scotia Open since hearing “it was in the works,“ as he feels an attachment to this province.
His great grandfather’s family emigrated from Holland through Pier 21.
“Halifax has some family history,” he said. “When I got here off the plane, you just take a deep breath, and you just know you’re in Canada.”
Weather, sudden-death win, make for ‘memorable’ tournament
From Arthur’s unpredictable winds to Sloan’s extra-hole win, organizers say the inaugural Nova Scotia Open was a golf tournament to remember.
“We always wanted the first one to be memorable,” tournament director Grant MacDonald said Sunday evening at Ashburn Golf Club in Windsor Junction, as a long day of two full 18-hole rounds, in addition to a playoff hole to determine Sloan as champion, came to a close”
The third round of the Web.Com Tour event was rescheduled from Saturday due to post-tropical storm Arthur blowing through the province, being squeezed in prior to the final round Sunday.
The tour’s only Canadian tournament started Thursday as part of the week-long GOLFest Nova Scotia, and was supposed to be played over four days, not the shortened three
“We had a day cancelled, so that certainly impacted attendance,” MacDonald admitted, but added “having lost a full day, the attendance has exceeded our expectations.”
MacDonald’s comments were backed up by buzz around the club that the gallery lining the green was busy for any Web.Com Tour stop, let alone its first time in Nova Scotia.
“The crowds today, from the minutes we opened the gates until mid-afternoon, there was a steady flow of people,” he said.
The Nova Scotia Open crowd was large enough to help raise $64,000 for local charities, including $48,000 for the QEII Foundation via the Mike Weir Foundation, and another $16,000 for Feed Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.
Spectators surrounding the 18th hole cheered loudly at that announcement, made prior to the trophy presentation.