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Calcavecchia hoping his B.C. links luck returns at Bear Mountain

Posted on September 23, 2016

There is just something about playing in Canada that has brought out the best in Mark Calcavecchia. And, he admits, his return to British Columbia is a welcomed one, given his plight in the 2016 PGA Tour Champions season.

Twice during his career, when he was on the PGA Tour, Calcavecchia won in B.C., taking the 1997 Greater Vancouver Open in Surrey and then returning to win the Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in 2005.

Victoria, where the Champions Tour has stopped this weekend for the Pacific Links Championship at Bear Mountain Resort, is a ferry ride west of Vancouver, but because of its proximity Calcavecchia feels he’s back in a familiar part of the golf world. He arrived here Monday and played a practice round the following day.

“I always enjoy playing in Canada,” said the 56-year-old Calcavecchia in a telephone interview prior to Friday’s cool, cloudy and rainy opening round, in which he shot a two-over par 73 after a bogey on the Par 5 18th hole.

“For whatever reason, this area and Canada in general … has been great to me. Timing would be great because I’m kind of in need of a good tournament, so hopefully there’s some magic in that. I’d love to have a good week.”

Scott McCarron grabbed the lead after the first round, shooting a nine-under par, 62, on Friday.

A three-time winner on the Champions tour, including a victory in Montreal in 2012, Calcavecchia has had a difficult season. He uses a different ‘D’ word to describe it, as back issues and inconsistent play with his irons have caused him problems.

In 17 events this year, he’s made the cut 16 times, but he has placed in the top-25 twice and the top-10 only once, sitting 65th in the Schwab Cup standings. That’s a change from his first three years on the tour when he was consistently placing in the top 10 at tournaments.

“It’s been pretty much a disaster in a nutshell,” he said, rather bluntly, of his season. “My back’s been pretty bad all year. And then my putting — I kind of had the yips most of the year. Now, my putting is fantastic but I’m just not quite hitting it the way I want to.

“But I feel like I’m putting great. At least when you feel like you’re putting good, if you can just find something with your swing and start hitting some good shots — I hit my driver fine. I hit my driver pretty straight and good, but some of my irons shots, hitting some wedges heavy and chunking some irons shots. I’m not very consistent with my iron game and that’s kind of where my problem lies right now.”

Calcavecchia, in his seventh Champions tour season, said he’s been dealing with back problems for about three years now. It was at that time he found out that a disc in his back was pinching a nerve. It’s been getting worse ever since.

“It’s not fun, but you’ve just got to get through it, deal with it the best you can,” he said.

Surgery seems like it could be a potential option, and it’s one Calcavecchia has been contemplating for some time now, but the veteran golfer has received conflicting information on the condition of his ailing back.

And that only adds to the frustration, to the dilemma.

“I’ve gotten a couple of different opinions and one guy, because I don’t have pain shooting down my legs, he doesn’t think surgery will really do me any good. And another guy says it probably will,” he said.

“So it may or may not help. That’s the dilemma. Do I take a chance on it or don’t I? I keep toying with the idea, back and forth, and I can’t ever seem to make up my mind. I’ve had a couple of doctors say don’t do it. So, who knows?

“I wish everybody would just tell me you’ve got to do it. It would be a lot easier that way.”

Despite ongoing back issues and wrestling with the idea of surgery, plus the play of his irons, Calcavecchia remains optimistic, even if it’s late in the season. There are five events left on the schedule, including the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in November, after this weekend.

One good weekend, one strong showing in a tournament can go a long way in regaining confidence in one’s game. Golf, with very little room for error and requirement for pinpoint accuracy, can be a funny game that way.

“It takes three good days and I can make a bad year into a good one in a hurry.”

Story by: Cam Tucker