Sports » Features

Defending champion denied third title



Ontario golf pro claims club championship

A couple of well-timed birdies was all it took for Brad Pemberton of Port Hope, Ontario to win the 17 th annual Canadian Club Champions Championship at the Whistler Golf Club last week.

Half a dozen golfers were within sight of the championship heading into he fourth and final round of golf, including Victoria’s Craig Doell, the champion for the past two years. Doell and Pemberton were tied for the lead going into the fourth round.

"Craig and I were head-to-head at the start," said Pemberton. "I hit the wrong club on number two and fell behind. But I had good course management, and I didn’t get into any more trouble.

"Once I took the lead, I didn’t want anyone to take it from me. So I hit lots of greens, and I had some breathing room on hole 18."

The competition attracted 120 club champions from across Canada, and the field was pared down after each round until there were 75 in the finals. The championships themselves are open to club champions from member clubs of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, which is also the governing body of men’s amateur golf in Canada.

On June 25, day one of the competition, Travis Inlow of Calgary tied the course record with a round of 66, six under par. Garth Collings of Winnipeg was a stroke back, and Doell was third. Pemberton was in a four-way tie for fourth with a score of 69.

On day two, Doell was back in the lead with a two-under par round of 70 and a combined score of 138. Pemberton also scored a 70 to post a total of 139, catching up with round one leader Inlow of Calgary.

"Today was a scorcher," Doell said after the second round. "The greens were really baked out, which made it nearly impossible to stop the ball. I had a bad first five, ending up in the rough on the first hole and hitting the cart path on the fourth – bogeying them both. But I hit every green on the back and my putting was solid."

The clouds came out on day three of the tournament, but the greens remained difficult and only a handful of golfers managed to break the 70 mark.

Doell posted a one-under 71 to hold onto the lead, although he would have to share it with Pemberton, who shot a 70. Collings of Winnipeg moved into third with a round of 69.

Things stayed cool on day four, with light rains during the morning softening the greens a little. Pemberton shot a 69 to take the championship with a four-day tally of 278. Doell shot another 71 to hold onto second place, in a three-way tie with Ontario golfers Robert Cowan of Waterloo and J.C. Deacon of Unionville.

Cowan’s low round of 65 set a new course record for the Whistler golf course, and moved him up from a sixth-place tie to a tie for second. He started with a bogey on the first hole, but things picked up from there with eight birdies over the next 17 holes. "Everything I hit after the first hole was good," said Cowan. "I birdied eight out of 12 holes from number three to 14."

None of the local club champions from Whistler, Squamish or Pemberton took part in the championship.