Brandon in balance

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

A lot of kids in Brandon Markiw's spikes would have visions of the PGA in their eyes, and nothing else.

Given all he's accomplished in golf - shooting a final round 68 to win the Alberta Open as a 16 year old, getting a scholarship to Ohio State University (Jack Nicklaus's old school) - he could easily be lulled into a dangerous case of tunnel vision: The Tour, or nothing.

Too many kids take that approach, and end up with nothing.

Markiw, mature beyond his 19 years, isn't one of them.

"If you're a prodigy like Ryan Moore (the 23-year-old former USA amateur champ on the PGA Tour) or Tiger, then it's a pretty easy decision," he said.

"But it's good to keep that balance. If you put all your eggs in one basket and tell yourself you're going to turn pro, school doesn't become as much of a priority. Then if golf doesn't work out ...

"Or vice versa: if you focus solely on your studies and rule out golf, you might miss out on a great opportunity."

So the finance major spends virtually every waking hour trying to balance it all - the PGA dream and the real world reality.

"It's a full schedule with working out, class, practice and study," said Markiw, who took time out from his summer holidays to compete in the Morgex Edmonton Open.

"It pretty well consumes your life. It took a bit of time to get used to that routine, but it's good, it keeps you busy."

He'd complain, but who'd listen to a teenage scratch golfer on a scholarship to Ohio State?

"Yeah, it's a blast," he grins. "It's a good spot to be in. It's large, 55,000 kids, but the atmosphere on campus is really good."

And the competition is great.

"There are some players from Alberta - Ryan Yip, and Ryan Lecuyer - who are as good as anyone, but the ratio of good players to average players is a lot bigger.

"The competition is a lot steeper. There's a guy who one week is playing in the Masters and the next week you're playing against him at Michigan State. It's pretty cool like that. You play against a lot of guys who are almost there.

"In any given tournament there are 15 or 20 guys who could play on Nationwide or play on (PGA)Tour."

One day Markiw, who finished 22nd yesterday at Northern Bear 82-82, could be in those ranks, but until then he's keeping his feet on the ground and his nose in the books.

"It's not ruled out. You have to be ambitious like that. I want to stay driven, but we'll see how it goes.

"I have three years of school left. If the game is there and I feel comfortable with it, I'll give it a go.

"But if not, I'll go other ways."

BLACKHAWK UP: Score Golf magazine has rated Edmonton's Blackhawk Golf Club 21st in its biannual list of the top 100 courses in Canada. Designed by Rod Whitman, Blackhawk was the third highest rated course in Alberta, next to Jasper Park Lodge (8th in Canada) and Banff Springs (14th). Wolf Creek in Ponoka, also designed by Whitman, was 22nd.


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