Despite a change of date, the Bill Morland Invitational took place at the North Bay Golf & Country Club on August 8th-9th, 2020 that saw 2018 Champion David Lang win his 2nd title in 3 years in dramatic fashion.
Lang, (Keswick, ON) trailed by two strokes as the final group made their way to the 17th green where the former champion chipped in for eagle, giving him a come-from-behind opportunity going into the final hole.
After hitting his tee-shot on 18 in the hazard, Lang stuck his approach to 10ft with nothing short of an easy putt to clinch the title.
“With where that pin was, if that putt doesn’t go in, it very well could have gone 15-20ft by the hole."
Yet again, this year’s tournament saw golfers from all over Ontario make their way to North Bay with hopes of having their name added to the prestigious list of past Champions, one that dates back several decades.
However, this year was different.
Through all of the uncertainties that 2020 has presented, no bigger gap was left in the Northern Ontario golf community than the absence of Mr Bill Morland at this year’s tournament.
The saddening news of Mr Morland's passing gave this year’s tournament a new meaning; one of tribute and memories, thankfulness and gratitude and certainly competition and camaraderie.
We sat down with 2020 Champion David Lang to get his thoughts on the weekend and the impact that Mr Morland and the Bill Morland Invitational has on the game of golf in Northern Ontario.
The Bill Morland Invitational has become one of the most anticipated events in Northern Ontario. What is it about the tournament that makes it so special?
"Everything about it. The people. The volunteers. The Golf Course itself. I constantly tell head pro Jeff Mancini that he is the best CPGA professional. He puts on a first-class event (with the rest of the NBGCC staff) year in and year out. Truly does not get any better."
How many years have you competed in the tournament?
I've been coming to the Invitiational since 2014. I have missed 2 years due to back injury, but it always has, and will always be a must play on my calendar.
Bill Morland's impact on Northern Ontario golf has paved the way for many years and will continue to do so for many to come. How important was it for you to play in the tournament this year?
Incredibly important for me. It has been a long battle back for myself over the last year and a half. I couldn't play last year due to injury (sever disc herniations). Having won it in 2018, and not being able to defend it last year really bothered me. I worked really hard over the winter months to get back to normal to be able to play. I was doubtful at the time with the regular scheduled dates, however due to Covid-19, it got bumped back, giving me that little extra time to get ready both physically and in terms of my golf game.
What does it mean to you to be crowned the 2020 Bill Morland Invitational Champion?
It means a lot. This is the first year without Mr. Morland being there on the final day, shaking hands, telling great stories. He is deeply missed. But I think we can all say that he would be proud of everyone. Knowing how many people travel to this event from all over Ontario. There are a lot of great players to have won this event. I'm just thrilled that I can put myself on that list.
The last couple of months/current COVID circumstances have certainly changed the way we do things, golf participation everywhere has increased significantly. Why do you think that is?
People don't really have much else to do. Can't really travel. Can't really go on vacation anywhere. There should be more people out golfing. All ages. I am a firm believer that a bad day on the golf course is better than a good day in the office.
You had a putt on the final hole to ultimately win the tournament. Can you take us through the final few holes and what led up to the final moments of clinching your second title in three years?
I really struggled all day. Ricky and Chad were both playing well, I just couldn't make anything. Quite a few lip outs, hit pins, it made for a frustrating day. That putt was a must make to win it in regulation. If i missed that, there would have been a 3 way playoff. I was trailing by 2 strokes as I was walking to 17 green (To Ricky Allen). I chipped in for Eagle to tie with Ricky. I stepped up on 18, and proceeded to hit my tee shot into the hazard on the left, big mistake. When I got to my ball, I knew Ricky made bogey so I knew I needed to somehow make par. I had 167 yards to the hole after taking a drop and hit it to 10ft and luckily made the putt. With where the pin was, if that doesn't go in it very well could have gone by 15-20ft by so I'm definitely glad I was able to knock it in.