The Shaunavon golfer clinched his spot at the national tournament in dramatic fashion after scoring a sixth place showing at the CN Future Links Prairie Championships over the weekend.
The Prairie event, which attracted players from across the country, was held at the Shilo Country Club in Westman, Manitoba. The course, which featured some treacherous greens, is located about a 25 minute drive from Brandon.
The top six competitors at Shilo earned exemptions into the national tournament, which will be contested July 28 – August 1 at the Legends on the Niagara Battlefield course in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Bailey enjoyed a strong run at the three-day Prairie Championships, which started on Friday and continued through Sunday.
He opened with an even par score of 72 on day one of the competition and followed that up with a one-over 73 on Saturday. Sitting in fourth place after two rounds – and just five shots out of the overall lead – Bailey was in a comfortable position to secure an exemption to the national tournament.
“My ball striking wasn’t exactly where I wanted it to be, but I putted and chipped really well the first couple of days,” said Bailey.
Things, however, got interesting on the final day as 40 km winds created a stiff challenge for all of the competitors.
Bailey finished the round with a six-over-par score of 78, for a three-day total of 223, which placed him in a tie for sixth place with Charles-Eric Belanger of Québec.
The two young golfers then faced off in a sudden death playoff to determine the final national tournament exemption. The duo traded pars on the first hole before Bailey prevailed on the next playoff hole.
Belanger hit his approach shot into a greenside bunker on the second hole while Bailey hit his approach shot about 10 feet from the hole. After Belanger missed his par putt Bailey, who then had two putts to win the playoff, was careful to lag his first effort near the hole.
“It was a pretty unreal way to end,” admitted Bailey. “But it was nice to win the playoff. It takes the weight off at provincials trying to qualify for nationals.”
Andrew Brown of Calgary took top spot at the Prairie Championships after posting rounds of 71, 69 and 75 for a 215 total.
The other four national qualifiers were Owen Xiong of West Vancouver, BC (220), Zach Sackett of Winnipeg, MB (220), Keaton Gudz of Victoria, BC (221)and Michael Martin of Calgary (222).
Bailey still has a few more tournaments scheduled this spring as he prepares for the provincial championships, which will be held at Nipawin in July.
Although he has already secured a place at the national junior championships, no matter what he does at the provincial event, his goal is to earn a spot on the provincial team. The top four golfers in Nipawin will represent Saskatchewan at the national tournament.
Bailey finished well ahead of all the other Saskatchewan golfers at Shilo.
Carson Harcourt of Kipling (231) and Zachary Hurd of Prince Albert (231) finished in a tie for 17th.
The CN Future Links is Canada’s leading junior golf development program. The tour includes a select number of tournaments across Canada.
Bailey finished in 15th place at the same Prairie Championship tournament last year when it was held in Swift Current.
Bailey, a Grade 11 student who just turned 17, still has another season of junior eligibility after this year.
Bailey also qualified and attended the Canadian junior golf championships in Nova Scotia in 2012.