Another win for the ‘Snake’

The hour hand on the clock hadn’t even made two complete rotations since he completed his round of golf last Wednesday, but there was “Snake” Krawchuk still turning heads like he had done all day long.
It was Round #2, literally, as Krawchuk, who had won the Kitchen Creek Senior Open for an unprecedented fourth-straight time earlier in the day, was at it again with two gentlemen who have provided tips for his game (club pros Steve Wood and Glen Mills) and two other guys who fell victim to those tips (Greg Tighe and Jim Ballard).
The setting was the par-three, 147-yard seventh hole, which has a water hazard in front of the green, and the club selection was the nine-iron. A good choice, it turned out, as the results spoke for themselves—a hole-in-one.
“It fell a couple of feet left of the hole and just spun in,” Krawchuk recalled with a smile. “It was great.”
It’s not like Krawchuk was unfamiliar with the experience of accomplishing one of golf’s most difficult tasks. In fact, he aced the seventh hole last year with Mills as a witness.
Actually, it was a good thing Mills was there this time around or else Krawchuk might never have known about his latest ace—and probably would have teed up another ball.
“When I hit it, it was straight at it, but I thought it went over the green, so I turned my back to it and Mills was like, ‘No, I think it went in’ and I was like, ‘No, it went over.’
“So we checked the cup and there it was.”
And there he was last Wednesday.
The 53-year-old, who earned his nickname from the way he played hockey in his younger days by squeezing through holes only a slithery serpent could get passed, also is certainly no stranger to winning local golf tournaments.
He’s been atop the leaderboard before—and that’s not just counting the three previous Senior Opens. There was last year’s Memorial Tournament (which will be held again this coming Saturday) as well as the club championship.
As well, he captured second place in the annual Kitchen Creek Classic last year, finishing behind Gerry Hercun.
“‘Snake’ is the best,” said Ballard, who wasn’t too shabby himself by claiming the low net score in the first flight last Wednesday with a 68. “If you happen to get lucky and beat him, then you’ve beaten the best.”
But heading into the tournament, which attracted 80 other golfers (“That just speaks volumes of how well we’re doing here has a club,” noted Wood), Krawchuk wasn’t feeling too good about his game.
“To be honest with you, I haven’t been playing that well,” he remarked.
It’s unsure if Krawchuk made the statement to merely redirect the spotlight, but he later admitted he also got his “groove” back.
“We started on #10 [it was a shotgun start] and I stiffed my chip for the birdie, and that got me going right off the bat,” said Krawchuk.
But the wheels almost fell off near the end when Krawchuk double-bogeyed the eighth hole (his second-last hole) to leave him at two-under par. He then closed out the round with a par to finish with a 70—good enough for a one-stroke win over Jim Green of Kenora.
“I didn’t know the other scores [after I double-bogeyed the eighth hole], but even if I knew, I wouldn’t have changed the way I played,” said Krawchuk,
“You can’t change your game because of what somebody else is doing,” he stressed.
That’s the same line of thinking that Tighe, who finished third overall with a 73, took after he bogeyed his first three holes last Wednesday.
“In my younger days, starting out with three-straight bogeys, I wouldn’t have been able to get back into the field and I would’ve ballooned,” Tighe noted.
“I was a little down, but I knew there was lots of golf left to be played,” he reasoned. “You’ve got to take it a shot at the time, and just play the game and play the course.”
That he did, as Tighe posted a two-under score over the remaining 15 holes to finish in third, which goes along with the second-place finish he earned at the inaugural Heron Landing Men’s Open late last month.
“My confidence level is really good and I’m hitting the ball really well,” said Tighe.
Also hitting the ball well was Ballard. But after hitting some nicely-crafted tee shots, he was cursed with some misreads on the green that cost him strokes.
“I’ve been struggling with my putting the past couple of weeks,” Ballard noted.
All the golfers raved about what good shape the course was in.
“The course was absolutely gorgeous today,” said Ballard.
And that’s saying a lot since the course was closed the previous Sunday because of a storm that swept through the area early that morning. There even were some whispers that the Senior Open may have to be postponed.
But obviously that never happened.
“I’ve never seen the greens this good and they were just wonderful,” Ballard enthused. The crew did one [heck] of a job.”
“I think the course is in great shape,” added Wood. “They [the maintenance crew] put in a lot of extra hours because there have been days where they can’t work at all.
“And on the days where they can work, they’re working all day to try to keep up with how much the grass is growing.”
And with his latest win, Krawchuk’s stock grew that much more.
Heading in, he had a big red ‘X’ on his back. He was a threat. He was a target. And Krawchuk knew it. And maybe that’s what made this win that much more impressive.
Krawchuk now will focus his sights on the Memorial Tournament, which will take place this Saturday (July 16). But just because everyone else is taking him seriously doesn’t necessarily mean he’s taking himself seriously.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he reasoned.
Here are the top finishers from the 2005 Senior Open:
•Overall champion—Snake Krawchuk (70)
< *c>First Flight
1st low gross—JIm Green (71)
2nd low gross—Greg Tighe (73)
3rd low gross—Dan Livingston (74)
1st low net—Jim Ballard (68)
2nd low net—Dave Bondett (69)
< *c>Second Flight
1st low gross—Don Zelany (75)
2nd low gross—Ian McLennan (76)
3rd low gross—Fred Beck (77)
1st low net—Tom Fry (68)
2nd low net—Terry Burns (69)
< *c>Third Flight
1st low gross—Alton Pollard (78)
2nd low gross—Gord Taggert (81)
3rd low gross—Ron Mandor (82)
1st low net—Ken Beckasi (69)
2nd low net—John McLeod (69)
< *c>Fourth Flight
1st low gross—Wayne McLeod (80)
2nd low gross—Brian Lowey (85)
3rd low gross—Al Holt (86)
1st low net—Hugh McKinnon (70)
2nd low net—Dale Cooper (71)
< *c>Fifth Flight
1st low gross—Ken Noble (89)
2nd low gross—Clyde Ditmars (90)
3rd low gross—Tim Gauthier (91)
1st low net—Arne Hahkala (70)
2nd low net—Max Clement (71)
< *c>Sixth Flight
1st low gross—Murray McLeod (90)
1st low net—Delbert Ross (69)
2nd low net—Bob Johnson (71)
3rd low net—Bob Main (72)
4th low net—Ken Warren (73)