Smithers golfer competes in university golf nationals

Mitchell Turko shot a final round 73 to finish tied for 24th

Mitchell Turko walks the Golf Continental – St. Laurent course in Ste-Victoire de Sorel, Que. during the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA) Golf National Championships. (Submitted photo)

Smithers golfer Mitchell Turko shot a final round 73 today at the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA) Golf National Championships to elevate himself to a tie for 24th in the individual standings.

The second year Vancouver Island University (VIU) business student’s goal was to finish in the Top 10, but a poor round of 83 Tuesday left him near the back of the pack.

“Obviously I kind of shot myself out of it in the first round,” Turko said via phone from the Golf Continental – St. Laurent course in Ste-Victoire de Sorel, Que. “I putted pretty poor all week, but I hit the ball really well the last two days.

“I wanted to be in the Top 10, and I think I was definitely capable of it, but after the first round I just wanted to shoot two OK scores and I think I did that in the last two days; this is probably the hardest course I’ve ever played.”

The course is a tight, 6,771-yard Par-72 championship layout with a slope of 129 and rating of 72.5 located on the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Trois Rivieres.

READ MORE: Gryphons win golf zones

In the team competition, VIU did not fare well carding 949 strokes for the four players to finish +85 in 10th place out of 11 teams.

Turko expects they will improve, however.

“The Ontario and Quebec leagues are quite a bit stronger, we don’t have as much depth as they do, but we’re a really young team, so I could see ourselves competing in the next couple of years once everyone gets a little more experience,” he said. “I think all our players are first or second year.”

The team made it to nationals largely on Turko’s individual performance at the PACWEST Championships Sept. 27 -29 at University Golf Club in Vancouver. Turko captured the individual title with rounds of 73, 81 and 73 leading his team to a second place finish and a berth in Quebec.

That week he was also named the PACWEST Male Athlete of the Week.

Golf aside, Turko said just the experience of going to nationals has been great.

“It’s super-cool, I’ve never even been to Quebec before,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to come play a different kind of golf course and obviously it’s a really fun week for our team, we have a really fun group of guys, so I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”

Turko is studying business with a major in accounting and has not decided exactly what he is going to do or where he will live after university, but so far he’s been impressed with Vancouver Island.

“I do really enjoy living on the island, obviously the longer golf season is a big attribute to that as well,” he said.

One thing that probably is not in the cards, however, is a career in golf.

“I really enjoy competing at university, I started playing competitive golf a little later, so I don’t really ever see myself trying to go pro or anything, but I really do enjoy competing at this level,” he said.

Prior to university Turko was part of the 2013-2014 Smithers Secondary golf team that won the zone championships.

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