Sunday, June 12, 2011

Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., after winning the Canadian Tour's Western
Championship at Rivershore Golf Links near Kamloops.

(Keith Anderson /  Kamloops Daily News)
Roger Sloan, the pride of Merritt and the king of the Canadian Tour’s Western Championship, doesn’t eat “anything my mom cooks” and wishes he had invented Post-it Notes.
He also has “never eaten a salad” and “I close my right eye when I laugh.”
He doesn’t sing in the shower, preferring to “save my beautiful voice for the Christmas season.”
And his dream foursome would include God “to see if he can hit a high draw 1-iron” . . . and “Jack Nicklaus, in case God needs a lesson on how to hit a high draw 1-iron.”
Uhh, not even the Golden Bear could hit a high draw with a 1-iron.
All of the aforementioned is part of an interview with Sloan that appears on the Canadian Tour’s website, right there for public viewing. And if, while you’re reading it, you can feel someone pulling your leg, well, you wouldn’t be imagining it.
Yes, the 24-year-old Sloan is loving life as a second-year golf pro.
“Absolutely,” he replies when asked if he had fun playing golf at Rivershore Golf Links last week.
“But,” the interrogator interjects, “it’s easy to have fun when you’re playing well. What about when you’re not playing well?”
“It’s still fun,” he says with a wide smile and a glint in his eyes, both of which are wide open, “whether it’s a good day or a bad day.”
You don’t have to watch Sloan for long to realize that this is a young man who loves life and is well aware that a bad day on a golf course beats a good day at work.
No one had more fun than Sloan during the Canadian Tour’s first-ever Kamloops stop, though.
He fired a third-round 65 on Saturday, putting him at 17-under and sending him into Sunday’s final round with a one-stroke lead. He brought it home, too, firing a 66 to finish at 23-under, good for a three-stroke victory.
Pressure? It isn’t pressure when you’re having this much fun.
Pressure? Not when your dad, Curtis, is on your bag and your mom, Cathy, and sisters Valerie, 22, and Karlie, 14, are in the gallery.
Just think about how special this was for Sloan and his family. He wins his first tournament as a professional with Dad on the bag and Mom, Valerie and Karlie there, too. It doesn’t get any better than that.
For all intents and purposes, this tournament ended on the 16th hole on Sunday. Sloan, with a two-stroke lead, put his tee shot right of the fairway and into the long rough, well in front of the water that protects the green.
Sloan, with the impetuousness of youth, had an urge to go for it; the caddy, proving that Father Knows Best, wanted to lay up.
In the end, Sloan laid up, scrambled to a nifty par and that was that. If it wasn’t then, it certainly was when he birdied the par-3 17th.
But the game of golf at that level is a grind. It really is. So there wasn’t a whole lot of time to celebrate. Sloan and his caddy had to get to Vancouver because they’re on the 10th tee at Point Grey this morning at 8, one of 144 entries in a regional qualifier for the RBC Canadian Open that’s scheduled for July 18-24 at Shaughnessy.
The winner of the qualifier gets into the Open; the next 21 finishers move on to a July 18 qualifier at Morgan Creek in Surrey.
After today, Sloan might be able to kick back in Merritt and think about how it was that he torched Rivershore and the Western Championship field. And then it’s off to Fort McMurray for the Syncrude Boreal Open, June 23-26. After that it’s Calgary . . . Saskatoon . . . Winnipeg.
It’s important that Sloan play well through Winnipeg as the Tour holds six exemptions into the Canadian Open. After the Western Championship, Sloan is second on the money list, with $31,532 in winnings.
For Sloan, things were somewhat better at this stop than the previous one. That was in Victoria, where he missed the cut at the Times Colonist Open. Golf is tough enough when you’re healthy; Sloan took ill the day before the tournament started, tried to play through it and shot back-to-back 72s, which may be good enough for you and you but it wasn’t good enough for him.
When you first see the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Sloan you realize right away that this is a golfer. He just has that look. He is long and lean and athletic-looking, and there is a purpose to his loose-jointed stride as he leaves the teebox and heads down the fairway, wanting to smack that white ball one more time.
The bill on his white Titleist cap is perfectly curved; this is a golfer, not a hip-hop guy. The white belt appears to be back in vogue — perhaps thanks to curling’s Glenn Howard and his rink — and Sloan’s matches his shoes.
His thick dirty blond hair flows out from under the cap and there is some fuzz on his chin. He sometimes stands in the fairway or just off the green, one elbow resting in the palm of his other hand, fingers stroking his chin.
That gesture, according to his mother, is his trademark. Kind of like Ken Dryden, the great Montreal Canadiens goaltender, arms folded and leaning on his goal stick.
Sloan was a dominant junior in these parts, but it wasn’t until he went to the U of Texas-El Paso — he was a four-timer on the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll as he got a finance degree — that he started to think about trying to make a career out of this game.
“Until you find out that you’re able to compete at the college level,” says Sloan, who winters in Texas and cheers for the NBA-champion Dallas Mavericks, “you don’t know you can compete at the next level.”
He’s competing at that next level now, with the hopes of moving even higher.
And who knows? Maybe a few days of mom’s cooking will help.
Sloan spent last week commuting to Rivershore from the family home in Merritt.
Did Cathy, who admits to being the matriarch of a family of pranksters, do the cooking?
“Absolutely,” she says and she is laughing.
Yes, this was a fun week for the Sloans of Merritt.

(Gregg Drinnan is sports editor of the The Daily News. He is at, and

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