Local golfers vying for spots at Manitoba tourney

A pair of local golfers will take to the La Verendrye golf course in La Broquerie this Sunday in hopes of qualifying for the Manitoba amateur championship later this month.
John Lundon and Brian Johnstone, both of Fort Frances, are among the 99 golfers vying for the remaining 59 berths up for grabs at the 171-player championship, which will run July 18-21 at the Pinawa and St. Boniface golf clubs.
The qualifier originally had been scheduled for last Friday (July 7) but monsoon-like weather dumped 70 mm of rain on the course over three hours, making it unplayable.
(Less rain fell last Friday on the Shilo Country Club in Shilo, where 95 golfers were competing in a second qualifier for 57 berths in the championship).
“Last year I went to the qualifying event but I dislocated my wrist halfway through the round so I had to stop playing,” noted Johnstone.
“I hope I do better this year,” he added. “[Not having an injury] will make a bit of a difference.”
“I don’t think [Johnstone] will have any problem qualifying,” said Lundon, who qualified for the championship last year. “Like me, if his putting is on, then he’ll make it. He plays on a fairly high level of golf. He should do pretty well.”
Lundon, who has been golfing recreationally since he was eight years old, and competitively since he was 12, is no stranger to major golf tournaments.
“This isn’t my first time competing in one of these events, this is the third or fourth time,” he said. “Last year I missed the cut so I have to qualify again this year.
“I hope I make the cut. I haven’t really played much this year so I don’t know how I will do,” he added.
Greg Ward and Mike Dick of here already have qualified for the Manitoba amateur championship. They were among 55 golfers exempt from the qualifying round based their showing at last year’s tournament.
Ward, who will be making his second appearance at the championship, said his nerves won’t be a problem during his game although they may cause him some concern.
“Nerves are always a problem . . . people who say their nerves won’t be a problem are lying,” the 21-year-old remarked.
Ward, fresh off the 15th-annual Canadian Club Champions Championship tournament in Nova Scotia last month (where he finished in a tie for 27th place), stressed his game is set but admitted he would have to work fairly hard to win the Manitoba amateur title.
“Last year I placed 34th. I had a few good days,” he noted. “This year, if I put a solid four rounds together, I could make it, I could place well.”
Ward’s primary goal from this tournament is to advance to the Willingdon Cup team.
“That is something I have had my mind set on for a long time, like a couple of years,” he said. “[Making the provincial team] has always been in my mind.
“Whenever I see something written about in a magazine, it pushes me that much harder to get there,” Ward enthused.
“I am not nervous about the tournament because I have done it before. I have been to the Canadian junior nationals so nerves aren’t a problem,” stressed Lundon.
Lundon has been out on the links only about four times so far this season but he doesn’t think that has affected his game that much.
“I can still compete with some of the guys,” he reasoned. “It won’t be a big deal if I don’t make it this year but if I were playing everyday and I didn’t make it, then I would be upset.
“I figure I may as well go and try to qualify and see what happens,” he added.
Lundon admitted if he has one problem during the tournament it will be his putting.
“I can still hit the ball. Putting will be my problem [if I have one]. If I putt well, I will make it,” he said.
Don Craig, tournament director for the Manitoba Golf Association,
said there are three major qualifications that need to be met for a golfer to be eligible for the amateur championship.
“They must be male, have a handicap factor of eight or less, and they must be a member of a golf club which belongs to the MGA,” he noted.
And if a person is good enough, then they are old enough. “If you are 12 years old and don’t have a handicap factor of eight or higher, then God Bless,” Craig said.
The entry fee for the qualifying round is $50 while it costs $100 to golf in the championship.
“The money covers the entry fee, prizes, organizers, and that leaves a modest honorarium for the club that held the tournament,” said Craig. “The tournament runs on a break even system. We don’t do it as a way to make a quick buck.”