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Looking back at Sloan's first pro victory, earned in Kamloops at Rivershore

(NOTE: This story appeared in KTW in June of 2011) Roger Sloan is no Chi Chi Rodriguez when it comes to celebration.
Roger Sloan
Cathy Sloan hugs her son, Roger, after he tapped in on Hole 18 to win the inaugural Western Championship at Rivershore Estates and Golf Links on June 12, 2011. The Canadian Professional Golf Tour victory was Sloan's first win as a pro.

(NOTE: This story appeared in KTW in June of 2011)

Roger Sloan is no Chi Chi Rodriguez when it comes to celebration.

Instead of wielding his putter like a gun and dancing for joy after tapping in to win the Western Championship on Sunday at Rivershore Estates and Golf Links, the 24-year-old from Merritt calmly acknowledged the crowd — then he hugged his parents.

"My mom always jokes, 'Make sure that your first win comes when I'm around,'" said Sloan, who's mother, Cathy, followed her son from start to finish on Sunday.

"Don't take no reaction on No. 18 (as though) this isn't meaningful to me, because it really is. It's really special for me to win here."

Sloan's four-day 23-under-par total — 265 (64-70-65-66) — was three shots better than that of the Western's runner-up, Stuart Anderson of Victoria, who fired a 65 on Sunday.

The Merritt product's only bogey of the tourney — yes, he only made one bogey — came on the par-4 ninth on Thursday.

It looked like the 60-hole bogey-less streak might come to an end on Sunday on Hole 16 when Sloan, who was only two shots in the clear at the time, sprayed his tee shot into fescue.

Sloan's caddy was his father, Curtis. They had a decision to make on the challenging par 4 — should Roger try and clear a water hazard and go for the green from the thick, wet rough, or lay up and attempt to get up and down for par.

"The big thing is he hadn't bogeyed since the ninth hole on the first day but, at the same time, you have to say, 'Hey, that's not important anymore,'" Curtis said after Sunday's round. "What's important here is winning the tournament."

The conservative decision to chip out of the rough was made after a five-or-so minute conversation between Sloan and his father in the rough on 16.

A crowd of about 75 people watched as the blonde-locked sharpshooter stuck his approach shot to about five feet and drained the putt for par.

Curtis deserves credit for pulling back on the reins.

"That was my caddy's call," Sloan said. "It's a shot where I could go back right now and I could probably pull it off. But to lay up there was definitely the prudent decision."

Sloan's clutch tee shot on the par-3 17th led to a birdie, which gave the Merritt secondary graduate a three-shot cushion heading to the 18th tee.

He made a two-putt par on the par-5 18th to close the book on a tournament he will never forget.

Scott Hawley of Ottawa and Josh Habig of San Diego tied for third at 19-under par.

Sloan's victory came with it a few perks — a trophy, a bull-shaped belt buckle and, oh yeah, a cheque for $20,000.

He now sits second on the Canadian Professional Golf Tour's money list with 31,532.00. Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, who's played two more events than Sloan this season, is in first place with 52,969.55.

It would be easy to gloat about his performance but, in Sloan's mind, the victory at Rivershore was just the start of something special.

"It's just part of a process to get myself to the top-20 in the world," Sloan said. "This is just another step — it's like graduating from high school."

Mom was gleaming after the round.

"I'm so proud of him," an emotional Cathy told KTW. "We're so proud of him."