Richmond, BC’s Crisologo Passes Early Pro Test With Top-20 Finish At Freedom 55 Financial Open

The Combo Of Chris Crisologo And Caddy Alisha Lau, Both Accomplished Players Who Have Represented British Columbia On Numerous Occasions, Teamed Up For A Stellar Performance In The Freedom 55 Financial Open At Point Grey G&CC This Week - Image Credit Bryan Outram/British Columbia Golf

American Lee McCoy Wins Season-Opening Event On Mackenzie Tour By 8 Shots At Point Grey

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

It wasn’t a banner weekend for Canadians at the Freedom 55 Financial Open, but at least one of them was smiling when the season-opening event of the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada circuit concluded Sunday at Point Grey Golf & Country Club.

And he didn’t even cash a cheque.

Richmond amateur Chris Crisologo, teeing it up in his first pro event on a sponsor’s exemption, played like a seasoned veteran at Point Grey. The 21-year-old rising star of Simon Fraser University’s golf team closed with a two-under 70 Sunday to finish the 72-hole event at seven-under par.

That left Crisologo in a tie for 20th place and tied for low Canadian honours with Matt Hill of Sarnia, Ont., and Blair Hamilton of Burlington, Ont. “I think the positive is just being able to come out and play well,” Crisologo said after his round.  I was able to compete with these guys, see what they do and compare myself to them.”

His game compared quite nicely. If this had been one of those finals exams Crisologo recently wrote at SFU, he would have passed with flying colours. “You start small and you work your way up,” Crisologo said. “This is a start and hopefully there are big things in the future.”

Crisologo was especially proud of the way he battled back from some adversity during his four rounds at Point Grey.

On his second hole of Thursday’s opening round, for example, Crisologo snap-hooked his tee shot out of bounds and made a double-bogey. “I didn’t hit the ball amazing,” he said. “But I was able to keep a calm demenor out there even though we put ourselves in some pretty bad places.”

Crisologo credited his caddie, promising Richmond junior Alisha Lau, with helping keep him calm. Lau and Crisologo share the same Vancouver-area instructor, Rob Houlding.

“I was looking for someone on the bag and she said yeah,” Crisologo said. “She definitely helped me out with the composure parts of my rounds. There were a few holes where we could have lost it, but it was easier to stick to my game because I had someone there who knew what I was kind of feeling at that moment.”

Lau, a 17-year-old who will be off to the University of Colorado on a golf scholarship this fall, was making her caddie debut. “We see a lot of the same things on the golf course, so it worked out nice,” she said.

"He's out here having fun, getting the experience that he wants, so it's all good. I just tried to keep talking to him, keep him busy, keep things light. That was my job this week. And cleaning the golf ball, obviously.”

Crisologo is in the midst of a couple of hectic weeks. Immediately after his round Sunday, he drove to Tacoma where he will play in a 36-hole sectional U.S. Open qualifier on Monday. On Tuesday morning he flies to Mexico where he and Coquitlam’s Steven Diack will represent British Columbia at the Mexican Amateur Championship.

mage credit Bryan Outram/British Columbia Golf

Florida's Lee McCoy Raises The Trophy After His Dominant Victory At Point Grey In The Freedom 55 Financial Open As Tournament Director David Lee-Fay Looks On (L)

Despite his success at Point Grey in his first pro event, Crisologo is not contemplating leaving SFU early to chase his professional dream. “Not a chance,” he said.

“I wanted to finish my four years. SFU gave me an awesome opportunity to play NCAA Division II so I want to honour (late) coach (John) Buchanan by staying here my last year. I am definitely looking forward to it and I am hoping that what I have done helps put some spark into the program.”

As well as Crisologo played, it didn’t compare with Lee McCoy’s game. The 23-year-old from Tampa, Fla., beat the field by eight shots after firing a six-under 66 Sunday to finish at 20-under par. “My goal today was to get to 20 and I did,” McCoy said.

“That means so much to me. . .It was such a stress-free day to be in the lead. I have won enough college tournaments to know what it feels like to be in the lead and play with a couple of shots lead and I have never been so relaxed. I think the longest par putt I had today was three feet. It was really easy to sit back and enjoy the round.”

McCoy earned $31,500 for the win and grabbed the early lead in the race to finish in the top five on the money list and earn Tour status for 2018.

Fellow Americans Hunter Stewart and Jordan Niebrugge tied for second at 12-under par. Four other British Columbians besides Crisologo survived the cut and played on the weekend. Vancouver’s Ryan Williams was in position after two rounds, but couldn’t make anything happen on the weekend and finished tied for 28th at six-under par.

image credit Bryan Outram/British Columbia Golf

Vancouver's Ryan Williams Was One Of Four British Columbians To Make The Cut At Point Grey

“You know, in all fairness I think I only played a good seven holes in four days and that was the back nine on the second day,” Williams said. “I really struggled with my ball-striking this week. My short game saved me at times and then today I felt like I was striking the ball better, but wasn’t making anything on the greens.”

Mission’s Kevin Stinson tied for 39th at four-under, Devin Carrey of Surrey tied for 50th at two-under and West Vancouver’s Seann Harlingten tied for 61st at even-par.

CLICK HERE for complete final scores.

CHIP SHOTS: Hill earned the $2,500 Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week Award by virtue of having a lower final round than Hamilton. . .The Mackenzie Tour moves to Victoria this week for the Bayview Place Cardtronics Open at Uplands Golf Golf. Kimberley’s Jared du Toit will make his pro debut in that event.