Canadian Brooke Rivers’ cool head prevails to help Wake Forest win ACC championship

Brooke Rivers, of Canada, watches her second shot from the fairway on the 14th hole during the first round at the LPGA CPKC Canadian Women's Open golf tournament, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. Rivers, from Brampton, Ont., sank a 12-foot putt on the 18th green to break a tie in her match and lift the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to the ACC conference final on Sunday with a 3-1 win over North Carolina. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

An NCAA conference title was riding on Brooke Rivers’s putter, but she kept her mind clear.

Rivers, from Brampton, Ont., sank a 12-foot putt on the 18th green to break a tie in her match and lift the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to the ACC conference final with a 3-1 win over North Carolina on Sunday. 

The championship match against the Clemson Tigers was called that night due to darkness. With Wake Forest ahead in three matches and the top seed in the tournament, the Demon Deacons won the title, a scenario that was set up by Rivers’s cool demeanour earlier in the day.

“I just thought of the putt at hand and no external factors,” said the 19-year-old Rivers. “So I tried to clear my mind of anything consequential and focus more on what I was doing in that moment.”

“The only thing running through my head was the putt that I had to hit and how I was going to actually hit that putt.”

Wake Forest won the eighth conference title in program history after the two rain delays, advancing the Demon Deacons to the regional finals as they look to defend their 2023 U.S. collegiate national title.

Rivers said that she likes how match play — the format used in the medal rounds of varsity golf — boils the sport down to its essence.

“You just control what you’re doing and what you can do instead of putting your focus and emphasis on another person,” said Rivers. “You just control what you’re able to control.”

Wake Forest women’s golf coach Kim Lewellen said that Rivers has shown in her freshman year that she knows how to rise to the occasion.

“Brooke is a competitor and when she’s out there, the tougher the situation, the better that she does,” said Lewellen. “She had to make a putt on the hole before that that was a left-to-right slider that was probably five, six feet, and she made that.

“When we really needed her to clinch that point she had that competitiveness come out and there was no doubt in her mind.”

Wake Forest will be one of six host sites for the 2024 NCAA Regionals in two weeks at Bermuda Run Country Club in North Carolina. In each regional, 12 teams and six individuals not on those teams will compete. 

The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams will advance to the finals. 

NCAA — Lauren Kim of Surrey, B.C., tied for third on the individual leaderboard to help the University of Texas women’s golf team win Big 12 Championship with a commanding 12 stroke victory on Saturday at the Clubs at Houston Oaks. The Canadian freshman earned a Big 12 All-Tournament Team honours.

LPGA TOUR — Rookie Savannah Grewal of Mississauga, Ont., is 62nd in the Race to CME Globe standings and is the top-ranked Canadian in the field at this week’s JM Eagle L.A. Championship. Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., is 137th and will also tee it up at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles.

EPSON TOUR — Selena Costabile of Thornhill, Ont., leads a group of four Canadians into the IOA Championship. Although she has yet to earn points on the second-tier Epson Tour this season, she is No. 773 on the Rolex women’s golf world rankings heading into play at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont, Calif. She will be joined by amateur Leah John of Vancouver, Kate Johnston of Ayr, Ont., and Vancouver’s Tiffany Kong.

PGA TOUR — Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin, who grew up together in Abbotsford, B.C., will team up at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in Avondale, La. They are the highest-ranked Canadians in the FedEx Cup standings at 21st and 33rd, respectively. Best friends Corey Conners (55th) of Listowel, Ont., and Taylor Pendrith (99th) of Richmond Hill, Ont., will also be a team. Ben Silverman (103rd) of Thornhill, Ont., and Roger Sloan (189th) of Merritt, B.C., will be in different pairings at TPC Louisiana.

KORN FERRY TOUR — Edmonton’s Wil Bateman leads the Canadian contingent into the Veritex Bank Championship. He’s 18th on the second-tier tour’s points list. He’ll be joined at Texas Rangers Golf Club in Arlington, Texas, by Myles Creighton (27th) of Digby, N.S., Etienne Papineau (35th) of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que., Jared du Toit (76th) of Kimberley, B.C., and Sudarshan Yellamaraju (120th) of Mississauga, Ont.

CHAMPIONS TOUR — Calgary’s Stephen Ames is the lone Canadian in the field at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic. He’s fourth in the Schwab Cup standings heading into the three-day event at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga., which tees off on Friday.

PGA TOUR AMERICAS — Matthew Anderson of Mississauga, Ont., sits atop the Fortinet Cup points list after winning last week’s 69th ECP Brazil Open in a 54-hole, wire-to-wire victory. He’ll be back in action at the Diners Club Peru Open in Lima on Thursday. Anderson is one of 13 Canadians in the field.

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