VANCOUVER – Ryan Williams was more into slap shots than chip shots as a kid. Hockey was his first love in North Delta, and Williams played at a high level with teams like the Surrey Eagles and Richmond Sockeyes.
It wasn’t until his hockey career ended that Williams got serious about golf.
He became a teaching pro and then, in his mid-20s, began to play competitively, toiling for several years on the former Canadian Tour and Vancouver Golf Tour.
On Sunday, all that hard work paid off for Williams, who earned his biggest win as a pro. The 33-year-old Vancouver resident made four birdies on the back nine to capture the PGA Tour Canada seasonending Tour Championship in London, Ont. “A lot of hard work over the last six years helped get me here today,” said Williams, who plays out of Hazelmere Golf Course in Surrey. “I’m still a little bit in shock right now. It’s very, very rewarding to get a win here in the last event.”
The win was worth $27,000 to Williams, who closed with a four-under 68 to finish at 14-under par and beat his Langley buddy Adam Cornelson and American Clayton Rask by one shot.
That big cheque moved Williams from 39th to sixth on the money list.
He missed finishing in the top five and earning a partial Web.com Tour exemption by just $3,000, but Williams insisted he was not disappointed about that. Players finishing sixth through 10th on the money list do earn a pass to the final stage of the Web.com Tour qualifying school this fall.
“There is absolutely no disappointment whatsoever,” Williams said. “I was 39th coming into this and if you told me I could move to sixth and get an exemption into final stage. I would have taken that. This is fantastic. To win the Tour Championship is a pretty awesome accomplishment for me and now that I know I am going to the finals, I am able to plan my schedule accordingly and go down there early and scout the course out.”
Last year, Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor finished seventh on the PGA Tour Canada money list and used his pass to the Q school finals to play his way onto the Web. com Tour.
Williams’ longtime coach, Phil Jonas, thinks he can go all the way to the PGA Tour. “Ryan has worked and persevered,”
Jonas said Sunday. “He has a great upside because he is relatively new to golf. I think he can win on the PGA Tour. He’s one of the best drivers of a golf ball I have ever seen. He hits it long and straight, which makes golf courses easy.”
Sunday’s win ends a roller-coaster type season for Williams, who had high expectations after cleaning up on the Vancouver Golf Tour this spring. But he missed the first two cuts at events in Vancouver and Victoria and missed five more along the way. Most of them were by a single shot.
“Today made all those missed cuts all worthwhile now,” Williams said. “You hate missing cuts, especially out here because the season is so short, but I kept telling myself that when I have made it to the weekend I have been pretty successful.”
Williams chipped in for birdie on the 13th hole and made a birdie on 17 to tie Rask and Cornelson at 14-under. He won the tournament with a three-foot putt for par on the 18th green after Cornelson and Rask both bogeyed the final hole.
Williams is just the second Canadian to win on the 12-event PGA Tour Canada circuit this year. Fellow British Columbian Greg Machtaler, of Summerland, won the tour’s Ottawa stop earlier this summer.
In addition to his $27,000 cheque, Williams earned a $10,000 bonus Sunday by winning the Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Year Award. That award goes to the top Canadian on the money list.