Club pros fight field, weather concerns back home

Kitchen Creek club pro Steve Wood and associate pro Glen Mills each had an eventful week in Winnipeg.
The duo were going shot for shot with the region’s top professionals at the Canadian Professional Golf Association of Manitoba EZGO provincial championship while their home club was taking the full brunt under last Tuesday’s fierce storms.
Greens superintendent Greg Ross and his crew were scrambling on Wednesday and Thursday as between 50-100 trees were left downed in the storm’s wake. They worked to clear the trees and restore the cart paths.
Even after shooting a four-under 68 in the first round last Wednesday, one shot off the lead, Wood told the Winnipeg Free Press he was tempted to drop everything to help his staff here.
“[Before the storm hit its peak], I was trying to call. I didn’t get through until 1:30 and by then the rain was really falling,” Wood said yesterday.
“It was tough that way because you’re getting worried about back home.”
On the plus side, the hot, sunny weather since Thursday helped the course dry out a little quicker, allowing the scheduled Chief Stoneman tournament to run on the weekend.
Wood said he was grateful to Ross and staff for doing such a stellar job getting the course ready in a such short time.
And despite the distraction, Wood and Mills stayed in the running for most of the tournament, finishing in a four-way tie for eighth place at even-par 216.
Wood had a 77 in the second round Thursday before finishing with a 71 on Friday while Mills carded rounds of 74-70-72. They each took home $625.
Scott Dickson of the Niakwa Country Club won the $3,000 first prize after a nine-under 207 (70-65-72), beating Golf Central’s Dave McMillan by one stroke (67-72-69).
Barry Gibson of St. Vital Golf Centre was next at 212 (77-68-67), followed by Steve Witiuk from Tuxedo a stroke back (73-74-66).
The EZGO was held at the Breezy Bend golf course and brought together all club pros and assistants from Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. It yielded Wood’s best finish there in the seven years he’s competed–a feat that was achieved despite a poor second round.
“You can’t not be pleased with your best finish,” said Wood, a Winnipeg native. “But I didn’t have a great second round where I had 40 putts for the day.”
The next stop for Wood is the Fall Classic in Winnipeg on Sept. 9, where he’ll be looking to improve on his best finish of seventh in 1999. This tournament will play a big role in determining the circuit’s player of the year.
The EZGO result also earned Wood a spot on the Manitoba Titleist Cup team along with seven other head pros, two senior pros, and two club assistants to go up against their Saskatchewan counterparts.
That tournament will go Sept. 18-21 in Winnipeg.
Mills missed making the group by one ranking but will have his own hands full next month as he and the other top Manitoba assistants will field a team for a tournament in Toronto on Sept. 10-15.
Mills’ EZGO performance this year was a shade below his fourth-place finish in 1999.