Duncan golfer surprised to qualify for big U.S. tournament

Callan Rakimov didn’t even know how high the stakes were when he played in the Junior Championship at Pasco, Washington’s Sun Willows.

Callan Rakimov didn’t even know how high the stakes were when he played in the Junior Championship at Pasco, Washington’s Sun Willows golf course on May 21 and 22.

Rakimov, who calls the Cowichan Golf & Country Club his home course, finished third at the Pasco tournament — part of the Rocky Mountain Junior Golf Tour — and found out afterwards, in an email, that it was a qualifier for the North American Junior Amateur, and that he had made the grade.

“I was pretty shocked when I got that email and it turned out the top three qualified,” Rakimov admitted.

Rakimov shot a six-over 150 over two rounds at Sun Willows in tough conditions that included 30-mile-per-hour winds on both days. He didn’t let the weather faze him.

“I held it together mentally and played the game I’ve practiced all my life and let it take care of itself,” Rakimov said.

With the best golfers under 19 in the U.S. and Canada competing, the North American Junior Amateur is scheduled to take place in Phoenix, Ariz. on Dec. 30-Jan. 3. It starts with two days of stroke play, followed by three days of match play for the 32 golfers who make the cut. This will be Rakimov’s first time at the tournament.

Rakimov’s dad got him started golfing at the age of two or three, and he has been a member of the Cowichan Golf & Country Club most of his life, under the tutelage of head pro Norm Jackson.

“I’ve been working all that time on my game,” Rakimov said. “It’s been coming along the past few months.”

Rakimov, who turns 19 in July, graduated from Cowichan Secondary last year and is hoping to advance his education while continuing to golf competitively. He has been in contact with UVic and Camosun College, but an American scholarship would be even better.

“I’m working on playing down in the States,” he said.  I’m hoping I get a couple of looks. There are so many opportunities in the U.S., I’m hoping something pops up.”