By: Brendan Stasiewich
When you think of the great pressure players of all time, you think of Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky. Well, Joshua Hooper better be in those conversations from this day forward.
That’s a hyperbolic statement; but nonetheless, an amateur player hitting the shots down the stretch Hooper did is clutch.
While it was a nail-biting finish on the back nine of the 2021 RBC PGA Scramble National Championship, the team that qualified from Whitetail Golf Club in Eganville, Ontario separated themselves from the pack during the final two holes at Cabot Links, thanks to team member Hooper.
Maybe it was something in the water, or maybe it was something in the Cabot Cape Breton air, we may never know, but we do know that Hooper has that clutch gene.
From 40-feet away on the 17th hole and trailing the team from Black Mountain by a stroke, Hooper stepped up and curled in the left-to-right breaker, sending his team, consisting of Jonathan Schaler, Jouni Jutila, Manraj Grewal, and Jason McGrath, the Head Professional at Stittsville Golf Course, into a frenzy.
On the very next hole, from a downhill lie, Hooper clutched up again, hitting a 7-iron to two feet, as one of his teammates yelled, “Hooper is so clutch it’s disgusting.”
After all was said and done, the team from Whitetail were victorious by a stoke over the team from Black Mountain Golf Club.
“Everything was incredible, the courses were outstanding, the people were a blast, breakfast and dinner was awesome, everything was great, there was nothing that could have been better,” said Jonathan Schaler after the win. “Winning was pretty cool too, we started in the back of the pack and moved up in crazy weather on moving day on the Cliffs.”
Schaler is correct about the weather – the 50 km/h gusts led to scores being 5.7 strokes higher than a day prior on Monday.
“We were pumped we got to play in such high winds, then we got a day like this, there was nothing that could have been better,” continued Schaler.
Located in Inverness, N.S., Cabot Cape Breton is Canada’s first and only authentic links golf resort. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the picturesque town of Inverness, the Cabot Links course represents a dramatic departure from the typical golf excursion. With six holes playing directly alongside the water and every hole offers an ocean view, Cabot Links is where traditional links-land golf comes to life against the spectacular Nova Scotia landscape.
This year’s RBC PGA Scramble was bigger than ever, with a record-setting 154 local qualifiers across the country hosting nearly 13,000 participants. In short – it was once again the amateur golf event of the summer.
“RBC was great, Cabot was great, our caddies were awesome,” said Schaler. “After we played the first round, nobody that we saw the whole night had anything but great things to say about the event. When can we sign up for next year?”
Playing earlier in the day, the group from Oakfield Golf Club echoed the Whitetail group’s statements about the event.
“Thank you very much to RBC, Cabot and the PGA of Canada for this week and making it happen,” said Oakfield Golf Club Head Professional Ryan O’Connor. “We really appreciate all the hard work and long hours and everything that goes into an event like this, it was excellent, so well done to everyone.”
Prior to the week, players were given a package from Titleist and Footjoy thanks to their support of the championship. In addition, each player who competed in the RBC PGA Scramble received GolfTV codes which gave them access to the service through to the end of 2021. Golf Avenue also supported the RBC PGA Scramble this year, offering club trade-ins at many local qualifiers.