NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Doug Roxburgh needed one more mulligan on Monday at the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.
Roxburgh, who was eliminated in 20 holes by Jeff Burda, of Modesto, Calif., in the Round of 64, missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-5 second hole at Big Canyon Country Club that would have extended their match. And yet Roxburgh looked like he wouldn’t even make the 156-player field back in mid-August, after he three-putted the final hole of his sectional qualifier.
Ten days later, Roxburgh, of Vancouver, British Columbia, claimed the Canadian Senior Amateur at Capilano Golf and Country Club in West Vancouver. He defeated Brady Exber, who had just captured the British Senior Amateur a few weeks earlier, by three strokes, earning him an exemption into the U.S. Senior Amateur in the process.
It was great, said Roxburgh, who is the only Canadian male to have won the Canadian Junior (1970), Canadian Amateur (four times) and Canadian Senior Amateur titles. Gayle Borthwick is the only one to accomplish the triple on the female side.
Roxburgh, a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and 13-time British Columbia Amateur champion, had to work out some logistics before he accepted the exemption.
In the end, Roxburgh couldn’t pass up competing in his first USGA event since the 1976 U.S. Amateur at Bel-Air Country Club, two hours north of Big Canyon. Even though Roxburgh had competed in seven World Amateur Team Championships for Canada, the former accountant typically didn’t have the time in the summer to attempt to qualify for USGA championships.
I was always working, he said. I had a family and only a few holidays. I played the Canadian [Amateur], I played the Worlds and I played in B.C. I couldn’t get the time off for other events.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Roxburgh only spent six months in the Caribbean nation. His father worked for a sugar plantation and refinery in Santo Domingo, the country’s largest city. His two siblings were born in Vancouver and that’s where Roxburgh grew up and learned the game. He never tried the country’s most popular sport – hockey – instead focusing first on Little League baseball and then golf.
In 1970, he won the Canadian Junior Amateur, a stroke-play event, in Nova Scotia. He later attended Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. Two of his four Canadian Amateur titles came while in college (1972, 1974) and he claimed his other two championships in 1982 and 1988.
His on-course performances and appearances in the World Amateur led to a player-development position with Golf Canada, where he spent 12 years helping to produce notables such as Graham DeLaet and Adam Hadwin. He served as Canada’s non-playing captain for the World Amateur Team event six times, including in 2006 when the men finished runner-up in South Africa, two strokes behind the Netherlands.
Roxburgh left Golf Canada two years ago to focus more time on his own game.
When you get into the golf business, you don’t play golf, he said. I wanted to play some more golf in the summer, so I had the opportunity to pass things on.
The program hasn’t suffered with his departure. This summer, Brooke Mackenzie Henderson and Corey Conners lost in the finals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Amateur, respectively. At the World Amateur Team Championships earlier this month, Henderson, along with Augusta James and Brittany Marchand, had Canada poised to take home the Espirito Santo Trophy, only to see Australia rally in the final round with a 13-under-par score of 131. A week later, the men’s team nearly rallied against defending champion USA, with Bryson DeChambeau holing a 9-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to clinch a two-stroke victory for the Americans.
There is some really good talent coming out, said Roxburgh, who has seen Golf Canada pour financial resources into player development over the last 10 to 15 years. There is Corey and Brooke, but we’ve got some other guys.
We’ve just got to pull them away from hockey. All the good athletes go to hockey.
Roxburgh can play virtually year-round in British Columbia, and he hopes to complete in a few more Canadian and U.S. Senior Amateurs.
On Monday, he rallied from a 3-down deficit on the inward nine to take a 1-up lead with a birdie at the 17th hole. Burda then stuffed a 5-iron approach at the 497-yard, par-5 18th to 3 feet for a winning eagle to force extra holes. Two holes later at the 481-yard, par-5 second, the 20th of the match, Burda again reached the green in two, this time with a 7-iron, and two-putted for a birdie. Roxburgh found a greenside bunker and failed to get up and down for a 4 to continue the match.
Roxburgh had run out of chances, but his spirits were not dampened by the defeat.
This championship is run so well, from the volunteers to the club and just everything [else], he said. Senior golf is fun. It’s a lot more relaxing. It was a good match.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.