Lindsay Bernakevitch and Craig Doell aren't strangers to the PGA of BC Tournament of Champions, nor are they unused to playing with one another.
However, Bernakevitch, the Victoria Golf Club's (VGC) head professional, and Doell, its club champion, had never played the event together before it landed at the Nicklaus North Golf Course on May 29. Both had won with different partners previously — Bernakevitch in 2015 and Doell in 2007.
The duo tied the record for both fewest strokes and relative score with a nine-under 62 to edge Fairview Mountain Golf Club's Brian McDonald and Kyle Welch by a single stroke. It was also VGC's third outright win at the event, another record.
Bernakevitch noted he and Doell regularly play at the Willie Park competition in Victoria but just hadn't had the chance to team up in the province's top professional-amateur tournament.
"I think we're really comfortable with each other's games. We know what to expect from each other. I know that he's going to make every putt inside eight feet that he needs to, so it really frees me up in how I play. We meshed really well out there today," Bernakevitch said.
Doell, the 15-time VGC champion, explained that though there was the odd flubbed shot, being a best-ball tournament, the team was able to take advantage of its opportunities to right the wrongs and never dig too deep of a hole.
"You never know. It's always a bit of a shootout. It's nice just to make a couple of eagles (two-under-par on a hole) today," he said. "We covered each other when one was in trouble. To get to nine-under was a really good posting score to win."
Bernakevitch said Nicklaus North aligned with his and Doell's style of play as they made hay on some of the day's longer holes.
"I think we were six-under on the par-fives and we just took advantage of some reachable par-fives," he said. "This course just fit so well. Every time we hit a drive on a par-five, it seemed like we had the perfect (distance) to go in and be aggressive with our second shot."
In terms of the local contingent, the hosts from Nicklaus North were just two strokes off the pace as Andrew Smart and Nick Papoutsis posted a 64. Just a stroke behind was a last-minute pairing as Nicklaus North assistant professional Trevor Marko stepped in with Big Sky club champion Lance Lundy to not only salvage the day, but excel in it as Woody Bishop was unable to attend the morning of. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler pairing of Padraic O'Rourke and Nick Harris put up a 67 and Whistler Golf Club's team of Alan Kristmanson and Cairn Rae also finished in the top half of the draw with a 69.
Smart praised Papoutsis as they teamed up for the "eighth or ninth time" in the event.
"My partner's game was completely on point, so it was exciting to have a good, competitive day and play well. In golf, that doesn't happen often, so it was nice," Smart said. "On the third hole, my amateur partner hit a driver and a hybrid to about 18 feet for eagle and an easy birdie, so that was a nice start to the day.
"Lots of times, going out on the road doesn't treat us that well, so it was nice having a bit of a home game."
Smart was also impressed with the showing of Marko and Lundy under unique circumstances.
"I'm thankful that Trevor was able to help out. He's a big part of our operation here," he said. "He helped out Big Sky, but also showed up at 5:15 this morning to start work."