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Men’s Classic crowns new champ


While he has played the Kitchen Creek golf course several times in the past, it was the first time Aaron Loken played it during tournament action.

And he made the most of his opportunity.

The 20-year-old International Falls native carded a steady--but not spectacular round--of a one-over 73 Saturday to win this year’s edition of the men’s Kitchen Creek Classic, shortened to just an 18-hole event after thunderstorms forced the cancellation of Sunday’s final round.

It marked the second straight year weather has played a role in the tournament. Last year’s event was also delayed an hour during the final 18 due to an intense thunderstorm before play was finally resumed.

Loken’s opening round, which saw him scorch the back nine with a 35, was good enough for a one-stroke victory over Lee Turvander, and it was a nice way for him to wrap up his golf season here in the north before he sets off to begin his second season at Division II Lutheran University in Texas next week.

And Loken’s victory continued the trend in recent years of having a young college standout win the Kitchen Creek Classic. Last year, Walter Keating Jr. of Thunder Bay, now a pro on the Canadian Tour, ripped up the local course with a record-setting two-day total 139 to win the tournament by a convincing six strokes over Ryan Adamson.

Before that, Gareth Payne made winning the Classic an annual event--driving his way to three straight titles.

“It was kind of a blah day,” admitted Loken, who missed several weeks earlier in the season due to a broken hand. “I was striking the ball OK, but not great--I played the course pretty conservative.”

Conservative he was. Loken played near flawless golf, recording just two birdies and three bogeys, including back-to-back ones on the 8th and 9th holes.

“They had some tough pin placements so I was trying to shoot for the middle of the greens and have a 20-25 foot putt,” he noted. “I was waiting for Sunday, if I would have known Sunday would have been cancelled, I would have been more aggressive.”

Still, Loken said he played the course more aggressive than usual due to the wet rains the course received during the week of the tournament which made the greens “soft” and allowed him to go after the greens.

“The course was in great shape,” he said. “It has improved a lot in the last couple of years, and with the soft greens, some of the shots were able to stick.”

Loken was able to stick to his rock-solid style of game on Sunday as well. Loken was even after six holes on Sunday before the threat of thunderstorms forced the players to come off the course. After a one-hour delay, Kitchen Creek golf pro Gord Workum was forced to cancel the afternoon’s group final 18. Loken was forced to win the tournament after just one round.

“It always feels good to win a tournament but I would have liked to have won under a pressure situation,” said Loken. That’s how you want to win--I really like playing with the pressure.”

Here’s the rest of the top golfers in each flight:

Championship Flight *Scores based on 18 holes

Champion: Aaron Loken (73)

1. Rob DeGagne (75)

2. Greg Ross (76)

3. Greg Ward (76)

4. Marken Peuhkurinen (77)

5. Snake Krawchuk (77)

6. Rob Speirs (79)

First Flight

1. Sandy Sargent (79)

2. Rob Zacharias (79)

3. Ian McLennan (79)

4. Russ Desserre (80)

5. Jeff Nahnybira (80)

6. John Lundon (81)

Second Flight

1. Lee Turvander (74)

2. Greg Tighe (75)

3. Jim Kilmister (79)

4. Frank Redford (80)

5. Jim Rose (80)

6. Gary Wolframe (80)

Third Flight

1. Richard Kanota (80)

2. Terry Ellwood (81)

3. Frank Cavelli (82)

4. Gord Lee (82)

5. Jake Gilbert (83)

6. Monte Ross (83)

Fourth Flight

1. Terry Martinson (81)

2. Peter Campaner (81)

3. Dave Hogan (82)

4. Tom Conlon (83)

5. Al Pesola (84)

6. Roy Dokuchie (84)

Fifth Flight *Scores based on 36 holes

1. Rod Tucker (166)

2. Brennan Kilmister (171)

3. John Hazel (172)

4. Steve Kosowick (174)

5. Peter Badiuk (175)

6. Steve Lundon (178)

Sixth Flight

1. Roy Tighe (164)

2. Steve Melnychuk (168)

3. Bob Mainville (174)

4. Vince Jackson (177)

5. Don Ferrara (178)

6. Jack Lee (179)

Seventh Flight

1. Blake Cawston (180)

2. Tony Zappitelli (181)

3. Paul Jewiss (181)

4. Scott Lamb (181)

5. Doug Baird (183)

6. Al Holt (184)

Eighth Flight *Based on net scores

1. Chuck McPherson (141)

2. Don Hammond (142)

3. Chris Stamarski (142)

4. Frank McComb (144)

5. Fred Sinninghe (146)

6. Tom Ledoux (148)

Closest-to-the-hole winners on Saturday were Scott Lamb (No. 7) and Fred Sinninghe (No. 11).

Saturday skins winners included John Payne Jr. (No. 6), Rod Tucker (No. 12), Dave Penney (No. 2), Kevin Webb (No. 5), and Snake Krawchuk (No. 8). Sunday skins winners were Mike Asplund (No. 4), Steve Melnychuk (No. 11), Doug Baird (No. 12), and Bill Daley (No.17).

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