OFSAA berth for Morrisseau

Joey Payeur

The stormy mixture of emotions was plain on the face of Tyson Morrisseau.
A loss on the second playoff hole to Cameron Baird of the Westgate Tigers (Thunder Bay) meant Morrisseau had to settle for the silver medal for both himself, and as part of the Muskie boys’ team, at the NWOSSAA golf championship last Thursday at Heron Landing on Couchiching.
Morrisseau’s round of four-over 76, along with the efforts of Kendyn Faragher (86), Sheldon Jourdain (89), Graeme Kitt (103), and Cam Gushulak (109 but not counted as the highest score is tossed out), gave the Muskies a combined score of 354.
That placed them second six stroke behind the St. Ignatius Falcons of Thunder Bay (348).
It also meant Baird and Morrisseau qualified for the OFSAA boys’ championship Oct. 14-15 in Windsor as the top two individual finishers not affiliated with the winning team.
But it took some prodding for Morrisseau to be happy about becoming the first Muskie golfer to advance to the all-Ontarios in five years after what he felt was a missed opportunity at winning the NWOSSAA title on his home course.
“I’m pumped about it but a little bummed out I lost in the playoff,” conceded Morrisseau.
“[But] I never gave up when things were going bad out there,” he stressed.
“My putting was just not there today.”
There would not have been a playoff had Baird, finishing his round on the par-four third hole, not made an incredible 60-foot putt for birdie to tie Morrisseau.
“This was the first time I played this course other than [the previous day’s] practice round,” noted Baird, who lipped out on four other birdie putts during the day.
“Water comes into play on every hole,” he said. “You have to use your four-iron a lot.”
The pair teed off on the par-five 18th for their first playoff hole, with Baird landing a terrific approach shot eight feet from the cup while Morrisseau’s fell just over 30 feet away.
Baird missed his eagle putt to the right of the hole and tapped in for birdie.
That left Morrisseau to make a four-footer coming back to do the same after a good first putt got him close—and he did exactly that.
From there, it was off to the tricky par-four 10th, which involves having to navigate over a messy mixture of tall grass and water near the tee box before the fairway veers to the right.
“It was a little too risky,” Morrisseau admitted about his drive strategy that wound up backfiring when he ended up going straight into the bush that lines the left side of the fairway.
“I was trying to cut the corner and caught it a little too quickly, and it was all downhill from there.”
The lost ball forced Morrisseau to take a drop, with his third shot then finding the right-hand bunker in front of the green.
Baird, meanwhile, converted his safe tee shot on the right side of the fairway into an approach shot that landed on the front edge of the green.
Morrisseau pitched out to within 15 feet of the hole while Baird’s 72-foot putt made rolled to within four feet to virtually seal the deal.
When Morrisseau put his bogey putt 10 feet past, his anguish bubbled to the surface as he disgustedly knocked the ball back towards the hole and failed to drain it.
He then tapped in for a triple-bogey.
Baird had the luxury of missing his next putt but his tap-in for bogey was enough for gold.
After first accepting his individual silver medal, then the team’s silver medals as the rest of the Muskies already had left the course, Morrisseau was calm enough to appreciate what he and mates had accomplished.
“I’m proud of how hard this team has worked, coming out here after school every day,” he lauded.
“We’ve got good coaches who are good role models.”
Muskie head coach Brian Johnstone, assisted by Farrell White, was over the moon about his team’s efforts.
“Silver is way above expectations for what we thought we were going to do here,” he conceded.
“I’m extremely pleased with our season.
“I’m happy for Tyson,” Johnstone added about Morrisseau’s OFSAA berth, which last was accomplished by Fort High when the boys’ team of Alex McDonald, Kevin Jackson, Ryan Mosbeck, James Brown, and Cody Ward won the NWOSSAA team gold back in 2010.
“He’s worked hard on his game this year and learned a lot from one year to the next,” Johnstone noted.
Morrisseau started the day with two bogeys, but then had his highlight shot of the day when he holed a 30-foot putt from just off the green for birdie on No. 3.
He then birdied the par-five fourth and parred No. 5, but then had par putts on No. 6 and No. 7 lip out to leave him with bogeys.
Morrisseau parred Nos. 8 and 9 to finish with a 38 on the front nine before bogeying No. 10.
Pars on the next three holes led to a birdie on the par-four 14th, which featured a five-star approach on Morrisseau’s second shot that stopped seven feet short of the hole.
A par on No. 15 and a bogey on No. 16 were followed by another bogey on No. 17 that included a sharp sand save when it looked like the hole was going off the rails.
Morrisseau then had a 10-footer for birdie on No. 18 but it just slid past the hole to the right to settle for par.
Faragher and Jourdain, meanwhile, both carded their best rounds of the season last Thursday but neither were satisfied with their personal outcomes.
“It’s not what I wanted,” Faragher said about a round marred by a quadruple-bogey nine on the 18th hole.
“I put my five-iron into the water, which I never do, and then put my seven-wood left of the green into the brush and had to take a drop,” he recalled.
“On the front nine, I wasn’t hitting enough greens,” Faragher added.
“But it was an all right season,” he said. “It’s baby steps in terms of working towards next year.”
Jourdain shot 45 on the front nine—surrendering a few Titleists to the forest gods in the process.
“I could have shot better but my putting was good today,” he remarked.
“Hopefully, the program here next year will see us with a big team,” Jourdain added.
“The kids are starting to know about it more at our school.”
After two rounds in the 80s leading up to NWOSSAA, Kitt was left wondering what went wrong as his struggled to a 57 on his first nine Thursday.
“What went wrong? Everything,” he grinned ruefully through gritted teeth.
“My approach shots were terrible,” Kitt stressed. “If I wasn’t within 160 yards, I was not hitting the green.
“The 7-7-8 start [on his first three holes] killed me.”
Gushulak also had a season-worst round similarly plagued by a rough start.
“It got away from me in the beginning and I could never get it back,” he admitted.
“My putting wasn’t good and there were some easy strokes I could have got back that weren’t dropping.
“But this was a great experience this year considering this was the first time I’ve taken the game seriously,” Gushulak reasoned.
As for Morrisseau, he’ll aim for even loftier targets in Windsor next week.
“I know what I’ve got to do and I’m used to playing well in big events,” said Morrisseau, who was the silver medalist in boys’ golf at the 2014 North American Indigenous Games in Regina.
“I’ve just got to get my putting going.
“I’m not worried about anything but just making sure I play my game,” he stressed.