Zahidali (Ziggy) Nathu sure knows how to close out his university golf career.
The Richmond native is back home after playing five tournaments in six weeks that included stops in Florida, Arizona, Ontario and Mexico City. Along the way he produced the biggest win of his promising career and helped the UBC Thunderbirds capture the national title.
Nathu’s clutch birdie putt completed a final round UBC comeback to edge Western for team honours at the Canadian University/College Championship in Komoka. It was the second time the Hugh Boyd graduate had come through in a playoff after capturing individual honours at the 33rd PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship in spectacular fashion.
After seeing a two-shot lead evaporate on the final two holes. Nathu and Florida A&M’s Logan Bryant played the par-5 17th hole again in a sudden-death playoff. After playing the hole 1-over in three rounds, Nathu clutched up to reach the green in two then drained a 40-foot eagle putt for the win.
“I had a 20-foot putt for birdie in regulation with the same line,” recalled the Hugh Boyd graduate. “I knew the break going in and I just needed to hit it hard enough to give it a chance. “(For my second shot) it was from 270 yards out, uphill and over a bunker. I knew I had to go for it and probably hit the best 3-wood of my entire life.”
Nathu was back home for three days before helping UBC finish tied for fifth at the NAIA Championships in Arizona. The team then flew directly to Ontario for the Canadian Championship. He wrapped up the hectic stretch at the 2019 Mexican International Amateur in Mexico City.
Nathu didn’t let his golf schedule get in the way of his studies, graduating with honours from UBC’s Sauder of Business. Now, he is winding down his amateur career with the plans of turning professional in September.
He has been working with Nathan Leonhardt since last summer, the Richmond professional who launched the Tour Development Academy to mentor aspiring players.
“He is a much more mature player now,” said Leonhardt of his student. “Ziggy was really struggling with bunkers, just getting up and down when he came to me. After one session they became his favourite thing.
“We talk all the time. Just giving him the knowledge as a player myself that college guys have not gone through yet so he knows what is coming ahead of him.”
Nathu has a busy summer ahead with tournaments in Calgary and Victoria, leading up to the B.C. Amateur in Pemberton. He will also head to Oregon next month in hopes of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur that will take place at Pinehurst a few weeks later. There will also be the Canadian Amateur in Nova Scotia.
The plan is to make his professional debut at the Vancouver Golf Tour’s Vancouver Open then head south for the professional development Outlaw Tour in Arizona.