Nobody would blame Aiden Craig-Steele for not taking the next step forward in his golf career this year, but the pandemic and strange golf season hasn't affected his game one bit. At the 118th B.C. Amateur Championship at the Okanagan Golf Club in Kelowna, July 28 to 30, Craig-Steele had his best showing in three years competing at the tournament, finishing tied for 26th with a score of +2. Craig-Steele made the cut at the B.C. Amateur a year ago for the first time, finishing tied for 36th, 12 over par.
His strong showing in Kelowna comes on the heels of placing second at the Peace Country Open and third in the Lone Wolf Classic.
Craig-Steele finished the B.C. Amateur with consecutive rounds under par (-1, -2), and improved throughout the three-day tournament.
"I've never been able to (be under par twice) in a tournament, especially one at that high of a level," Craig-Steele said.
Despite how well he finished, Craig-Steele's tournament definitely had it's ups and downs. He opened the tournament with a +5 first-round, frustrated with how conservative he was playing and baffled at why he was doing so.
"It wasn't how I normally play at all, I played safe, wasn't attacking pins, not hitting driver, and when you play that way it's really hard to get back into it when you make a mistake," Craig-Steele said. "I told myself to play how I normally do, I used driver way more, if there was a driveable par four I went for it."
He was one under par in the second round, with five birdies and four bogeys. Though it wasn't his lowest-scoring round of the tournament, Craig-Steele said it was the best he played and should have had an even better score than he did.
His jump up the leaderboard wasn't lucky by any means, but the result of a year of a lot of hard work and a lot of golf. Though he didn't make the University of Victoria golf team last season, he practiced and played with the team the entire year, and feels really good about his chances of making the team for the 2020-21 season. He did better at the B.C. Amateur than all but one current member of Victoria's team.
If he is selected to the varsity team, Craig-Steele will head down to Victoria for the year, even though his courses will be online this year. However, that's all dependant on their even being a university golf season this year. The next step would typically be to play in the Canadian Amateur Championship, but that event was cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Craig-Steele struggled in his first time playing the Canadian Amateur in 2019, missing the cut, and was hoping for the chance to place better in 2020.
Regardless of what happens with the University of Victoria, Craig-Steele will be a staple at the local courses the rest of the season, and will continue to put in the work on the course that's carried him this far.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com.