Snake Krawchuk can’t take all the credit—and he doesn’t want it, either.
“I looked up and said, ‘Mom, this one’s for you,’ and it went in,” Krawchuk said of his seven-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday afternoon that won him the men’s open division of the annual Kitchen Creek club championships.
Trailing first-day leader Greg Ward by one shot heading to the 18th hole, Krawchuk (71-72-143) drained a 20-foot birdie putt to force the playoff with Ward (70-73-143).
Teeing off from the 10th hole in the playoff, both men drove short of the green. Krawchuk was almost 20 yards from the pin to the left while Ward was 40 yards shy on the right side.
Ward’s pitch left him 16 feet away for his birdie attempt but Krawchuk—with little green to work with—lofted a superb approach shot to set up his birdie effort.
Ward rolled his putt left of the hole by centimetres. Then when Krawchuk sank his, the first-time club champion’s face lit up like the sun-drenched sky above him.
Krawchuk’s easygoing demeanor showed some cracks during his emotional acceptance speech, when he had to gather himself while dedicating the victory to his mother, who passed away four years ago.
That was in stark contrast to his rock-solid play down the stretch when he rallied from two shots down with three holes to play against Ward, who Krawchuk praised as the area’s “ultimate golfer.”
“If you’re going to beat anybody, it’s something to beat Greg,” Krawchuk said of the former club champ. “There’s no one in town with a better short game than him. When he needs the shot, he gets it.”
But that was not the case Sunday, when things started coming apart for Ward on the 16th hole.
Krawchuk recounted how after driving into a water hazard, Ward stripped down to his golf shorts and waded in to make an amazing recovery shot.
“He nearly got it on the green,” said a disbelieving Krawchuk. “But then he missed a five-footer for his par and I made my par.”
Both parred the tough par-four 17th, but when Ward’s second shot rolled off the back of the green at 18, Krawchuk knew the door was open.
“I needed the birdie because I knew Wardie was going to go up and down in two,” he remarked. “The putt was probably my best stroke of the tournament.
“I was telling myself just don’t be short with it.”
Ward, who carded six birdies Sunday after collecting seven in the first round Saturday, didn’t get a solid piece of his third shot, but kept his composure to drain a six-footer and save par—forcing the playoff.
Krawchuk, who won his first Senior Open title here in July, was feeling a sense of déja vu before the playoff, having been in the same spot four years ago when he came out on the short end of the extra hole.
“Yeah, it was going through my head,” he admitted. “My thought was mostly to just get it on the green and whatever happens, happens.”
Nor was a playoff anything new for Ward, who needed two extra holes to capture the annual Kitchen Creek Classic men’s tournament last month over Jim Ballard.
< *c>Other winners
Earl Klyne finished as the division’s second low gross winner, shooting 73-78-151 to end up third overall.
Defending champ Brian Beers, who won the nine-hole elimination shootout Saturday, took fourth spot and the third low gross position with rounds of 76-76-152.
Dr. Steve Chown bounced back from an opening-round 80 with a 73 on Sunday for a 153 total and fourth in the low gross category.
In the men’s open first flight, Tom Abma was the low gross champ with a 163, edging out Peter Badiuk by two strokes. Shawn Jourdain had the top low net score with a 145—two better than Dave Berry.
Jeff Ogden, competing in the first flight, had the shot of the tournament at the 17th hole on Sunday.
After taking a 10 on the previous hole, Ogden’s drive found the sand trap about 220 yards from the pin. But his frustration quickly turned into celebration when his second shot exploded out of the hazard and went directly into the hole for an eagle.
Bill Douglas had a 175 for the top low gross score in the second flight of the men’s open division, well ahead of runner-up Bill Moody (180). Blake Bruyere was the low net winner (145) while Shane Jourdain was next (147).
< *c>Lee triumphs
Meanwhile, Donna Lee fired rounds of 86-92-178 to hold off Carol Livingston by two strokes to capture the ladies’ open club title Sunday.
Laureen Hill finished another stroke back at 181 while Jean Dick was fourth with 182.
Dana Kosowick won the low net title for the ladies with a 142, two ahead of Rita Woodland.
Gail Willick was the low gross winner in the first flight with a 198 total. Marg Bogacki and Arlene Georgeson tied at 148 for the low net crown, with Bogacki getting the nod based on a lower gross score.
In the senior men’s division, Dave Bruyere broke away from his first-day co-leader Dan Livingston on Sunday to grab the club title by a convincing 10 strokes with rounds of 77-74-151.
Merdo Krawchuk, who won the masters division, finished third overall at 162 (81-81).
Gord Taggart and Tom Fry each posted the top low net scores of 140, with Taggart winning via a countback.
Keith McRae’s total of 180 was good enough to win the low gross category by three strokes over Clyde Ditmars in the first flight of the senior men’s division.
Aarne Hahkala had the top low net score of the first flight (140), one better than Norm Hyatt.
Tanner Ward, the younger brother of the men’s open runner-up, pulled off a remarkable comeback to win the junior boys’ crown.
An 85 on Saturday left him five strokes out of the lead and in last place. But Ward, who went 10-over on the last five holes the first day, played the same holes in one-under Sunday for a final-round 78 and a one-shot win over Scott Bridgeman.
Scott Basaraba was the low gross winner of the first flight with a 193 while Jason Hammond was the low net champ (148).
And Kate Bondett went unchallenged in the junior girls’ division, shooting 103-109-212 to claim that club title.