Tie for lead in Senior Men’s Golf Tourney
Heading into the final round, the New Brunswick senior men’s golf championship leaderboard is crowded at the top. Dan Coulombe of the Fredericton Golf Club and Marty Winslow of host Kings-wood share the lead with 5-under-par 139 two-day totals. Mark Armstrong of The Riverside Country Club, a senior ‘rookie’ in the 54-hole event for players 55 and over, is one stroke back. Mike Breen of Hampton and Ralph Michaud of Aroostook Valley are also handy at 2-under par.
Herrick Hansen, also of Aroostook Valley, struggled to a 4-over 76 after matching Armstrong’s opening-round 67, but he’s still within striking distance at 1-under par. Guy McKnight of Country Meadows near Moncton, sits seventh in the 98-man field at 3-over-par 147 – eight shots off the pace. Eric Vail of The Riverside and Covered Bridge’s Gary Melanson, who carded a 2-under 70 Tuesday, are tied for ninth at 148. Fredericton’s Phil Dixon and Phil Plume are 149 and 150, respectively.
Defending champion Sonny Phillips of Fredericton isn’t playing, so a new champ will be crowned around 7 p.m. Wednesday. “It’s wide open. We’ve got a bunch of guys in close vicinity to each other,” Coulombe said.
Coulombe was steady all morning, with six birdies and only one bogey, on No. 3, for a 5-under 67. “If anyone said,‘after two days at Kingswood, you’d be 5-under, would you take that?’ I would have said, ‘I certainly would’ I was less erratic today and putted well. It all boils down to putting.” “I think home-course knowledge comes in to play, on the greens especially,” Winslow said. Winslow was 3-under 33 at the turn. He had two bogeys on the back,but dropped his fourth birdie of the day on No. 14 and had an eagle-3 on the par-5 16th for a 68. He had bogeyed that hole the day before, muttering “Damn No. 16”, as he signed his scorecard.
The three-stroke swing on that hole has the 72-year-old tied for the lead. “I probably hit the ball better today,” Winslow said, “but that one bad hole yesterday was the difference. You can’t have a triple (bogey) on a par-3.”
Armstrong was 33 on the front to get to 8-under for the tournament – four ahead of Winslow at that point – but went in reverse with bogeys on holes 11, 14, 17 and 18 for a 1-over 73. “I’m extremely pleased with the total for two days,” Armstrong said. “I was just hoping not to blow up today, so a 73 puts me in the running for the team.” Armstrong made an eagle on No. 16 Monday but parred that hole Tuesday, “so there’s a couple strokes. And I didn’t make a couple of bombs. Yesterday I hit a 40-footer and 50-footer. No bombs today. I was just a little sloppy finishing.” Still, he’ll enjoy teeing off with Coulombe and Winslow in the final group around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“I’m just having fun,” Armstrong said. “They’re not expecting my name to be there, so just having it there is good. Will I be nervous? As long as I get a decent tee shot on No. 1 and start walking, I’ll be fine.”
“It wouldn’t be right if you didn’t feel pressure,” Coulombe said. “I always do. I think most athletes would say you should have that little bit of jitters. You can’t approach it like another middle-of-the-week round of golf.”
Breen, the 2013 champion, had six birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey 6 on the par-4 8th for his second straight 71. “I played well; probably hit it better than yesterday,” Breen said. “Just a couple shots I’d like to have back, but that’s every round. Overall, I was happy. The course plays so short (6,068 yards) from the tees we’re playing it, so it’s par-72 but it doesn’t feel like 72” Michaud vaulted up the standings, thanks to six birdies. He needed to par No. 18 for a 66, which would have been the low round of the tournament, but instead had a double bogey 6 to finish with 68.
Hansen, 66, had an eagle on 16 like Winslow, but only managed one birdie and had seven bogeys. “I was nine shots higher,” said Hansen, the 2012 champ. “I didn’t hit as many greens today and I missed five putts from inside of five feet, including a one-footer on 17. Careless ... I should have been even-par, probably, at the worst, instead of 4-over, but that’s golf.” The Canadian seniors will be held Sept. 5 to 9 in Niagara Falls, Ont.
BRUCE HALLIHAN, THE DAILY GLEANER