Alberni golfer Proteau vies for US Women’s Open title

Alberni's Christina Proteau won the BC Women's Amateur Championship and is headed to the US to in hopes of winning the US Women's Open title.

Port Alberni Christina Proteau checks out the BC Women's Amateur Championhip trophy

On the back nine of the BC Women’s Amateur Golf Championship, Christina Proteau might have thought her winning streak was over. She hadn’t lost a tournament since May, and had just won the BC Women’s Mid-Amateur two days earlier. But the Port Alberni golfer—competing on her home course—had just bogeyed three holes in a row, and her lead had dwindled to two shots over Amanda Baker of Nanaimo.

She nearly holed out of the bunker on No. 12, and wasn’t too stressed at the bogey on No. 13. “But 14 with the pitching wedge and to push it that far right, that was terrible,” she said.

“It was really difficult standing on the tee on 15 with water, water everywhere on 15 and 16. But I had three chances, those last three,” she said.

She made par on her next three shots, and Baker did not.

Despite pulling her tee shot on No. 18 and bogeying again, Proteau remained confident, and congratulated her opponents before celebrating. It was her third BC Women’s Amateur title—she also won in 2006 and 2009.

It is that composure that has Proteau enjoying the best year she’s ever had.

This week she is playing in the US Women’s Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., having qualified as an amateur in May.

And for the first time, she is serious about turning pro.

“I haven’t lost all year. At all. I’ve never been able to say that,” she said. She has won her zone championship, the US Open qualifier, Nanaimo ladies’ tourney, Glacier Greens (Comox) ladies’ tourney, the Mid-Amateur and the BC Amateur.

“Winning breeds more winning, which is good.”

She smiles about it now, but admits her outlook is far different than it was one year ago. “Last year I was just so poor mentally. I had a bad attitude on the golf course. I just let every little thing compound. Little things turned into bad thoughts.”

This year she has accentuated the positive, and as a result is more confident. And it shows.

When Proteau graduated from college and wrapped up her junior career she had the opportunity to turn pro, but chose to go to law school at the University of Victoria instead. Now, playing the best golf of her amateur career, she is ready.

“I’m going down to Q school at the end of July,” she said. The LPGA Qualifying School is in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“I decided not to try after college. I wasn’t playing as good as I am now,” she said. “I decided to go to law school; that’s worked out really well. Now is a good time. I have the support of my office.

“It’s best to do it now before we (she and husband Jim) decide to have kids.”

Proteau was born and raised in Port Alberni, and her father, the late Mark Spence, taught her to golf at Alberni Golf Course. If there was any bittersweetness to winning the BC Amateur title at home, it was that her father was not there to see it happen.

“It was really special for me,” Proteau said after her final round. “(I was) thinking a lot about my father today. He passed away three years ago…that’s why it was mentally tough.”

She dedicated her win to her late father, and admitted the pressure was on to win this particular tournament in his honour.

Playing in front of the hometown crowd was special for Proteau, whose husband Jim organized the mid-amateur and amateur tournaments. But playing her home course was a double-edged sword, she said.

“A big help because obviously you know what you hit, you feel comfortable, you can visualize things a lot easier. The fairways look wider to you; they may look narrow to others.

“But it’s also a bit of a hindrance because you can’t help thinking how nice it would be to win at home, but you can’t think about those things when you’re in the moment.

“I honestly though in my mind this was going to be a harder week pressure-wise than (this) week (at the US Women’s Open).

“(This) week no one has a clue who I am so I can just go out and play and enjoy the experience. I’m sure good things are going to happen.”

Proteau left for Colorado Springs the day after winning the BC Amateur title. She is one of 1,295 entries in the prestigious American tournament, and one of 25 amateurs to have qualified.

The last time an amateur won the tournament was in 1967.

Action got underway Thursday morning. Players were to golf 18 holes on Thursday and Friday, then the lowest 60 scores (plus anyone within 10 strokes of the leader) would make the cut for the final two rounds.

The Broadmoor (East Course) is a par 71, and 7,047 yards. In 2010 the cut was a 10-over-par 152.

After returning from the US Women’s Open, Proteau will have just over a week to rest before heading to the Royale Cup Canadian Women’s Amateur at Duncan Meadows Golf Club, July 18-22.

CHIP SHOTS…Jackie Little of Port Alberni, whose name is on the BC Amateur trophy a record five times, finished second in the Mid-Amateur with a 16-over-par 225, but won the inaugural Master-40 Division. She also finished tied for 10th in the BC Amateur with an 18-over-par 302…Alyssa Herkel from Port Alberni finished the BC Amateur tied for 24th with a four-round total of 322.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

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