Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
Winning golf tournaments is tough enough.
Authoring history — now that takes some talent.
Meet Garth Collings, history-maker in claiming a third Manitoba Amateur title Thursday at Elmhurst Golf and Country Club.
Not only is the 51-year-old Breezy Bend member believed to be the province’s oldest-ever amateur champion, he joins an elite group of players with at least three (1987, 1994, 2009) on his resume.
The feat is all the more remarkable if you examine the trophy, first presented by theManitoba Free Press, and championship records since 1922.
Collings has 22 years between his first and newest victory — 16 was the previous record by Ted Homenuik — and it’s been 15 years between wins, bettering the previous longest span of 13 years by Terry Hashimoto.
“It’s been a slow 15 years,” an emotional Collings said after shooting three-over 74 to finish at four-over 290 on Thursday, good enough to squeeze past four young rivals. “I thought last year might have been my year but lost to Brad (Kirton), who played phenomenal.
“And after Pinawa (three-putting the 72nd hole and losing by one to Jordan Krantz in 2004), that was hard. But anything can happen in golf and you saw it today.”
On a windy day on Elmhurst’s difficult greens, Collings had one important edge — starting the day in fourth spot and three shots back, he didn’t have to play in the final group, which caught the contagion of nerves early.
By the turn on Thursday, Pine Ridge’s Scott Loewen, the leader through the first three days, had given away all his lead and closest chasers Scott Markham of Niakwa and Tyler Mancini of Pine Ridge were also over par.
That allowed Collings, who turned in one-over 36, and Selkirk’s Scott Borsa, who turned even, back into the game and all five of those players either shared or had the lead at one stage or another on the back nine.
Borsa — who wound up second by a shot after a superb 69 — gained a brief share with a birdie at No. 16, but Collings pulled ahead for good by chipping in from the fringe for a birdie at the par-3 17th.
When the final trio came to the 72nd hole, it was Markham who needed the birdie to force Collings to a playoff. He bogeyed and tied for third with Loewen, two shots behind.
After he lost last year’s title to Kirton in an epic, five-hole playoff, Collings admitted he’s often wondered how many more chances he’d get.
“All the time,” he said.
His short game, again, allayed those fears on Thursday.
He had two chip-ins and numerous par saves that helped him win the title with the fewest birdies — just nine — of any of the top six players this week.
“I didn’t think 74 would be enough to win,” he said. “But it’s a tough golf course. One guy under par over two days (Borsa), that’s pretty good.”
Collings, inducted into the Manitoba Golf Hall of Fame last fall, said he’s had all kinds of thoughts about golfers and their ages after Tom Watson’s near-miss at the British Open last week.
“It was a great story; I’m kind of glad I made my story work out.”
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