Ward falls short of provincial berth

Greg Ward’s run at a berth on Team Manitoba for next month’s Canadian interprovincial showdown ended Friday with him on the outside looking in.
Ward, who plays out of Kitchen Creek here, carded a final-round 73 to finish tied for 11th at one-over par 289 in the Clarica Manitoba Amateur Open last week–11 strokes behind winner Adam Speirs (St. Charles Country Club).
But he was just three shots out of a top four finish, which would have qualified him for the provincial team.
Ward had opened action at the Pelican Beach Golf and Entertainment Centre in Gimli last Tuesday with a one-under 71.
He fired an even-par 72 in the second round Wednesday to easily make the cut, but could only manage a one-over 73 in Thursday’s third round, setting up a similar score for Friday.
“I guess my scores weren’t too bad,” said Ward on his 11th place finish–a repeat of last year’s showing there. “But that top four finish was what I wanted.”
Ward said he started each round very strongly, at even or one-under par, but faltered when the key holes came up.
“I was having a little trouble each day. Mainly trouble with holes 16, 17, and 18. I averaged an even or over par for them on each round,” he said.
“Basically, I had a hard time closing it out.”
He added the par-five holes also gave him extra trouble. “That basically cost me 10 shots,” he remarked.
Speirs, the 1999 provincial champ, reclaimed the honour Friday after carding a 68 for a 10-under par 278 total. Garth Collings (Breezy Bend Country Club) and Jamie Scott (Grand Pines Golf Course) were next at 282 and 283 respectively.
Brad Kirton (Rossmere Country Club) broke the four-way logjam at 286 for the fourth and final spot on Team Manitoba (286) by edging Steve Bucko, Jared Ladobruk and Nick Rowe in a two-hole playoff.
Defending champ Kevin Kotyk finished well behind the pack with an eight-over 296. Jordan Krantz of Dryden, Ward’s occasional playing partner, shot a one-under 287 for the week to tie for eighth place.
Manitoba Golf organizer Don Craig said the six golfers to finish below Kirton will receive invites to the Canadian championships. Krantz received the invite but Ward was one shot off the spot.
Despite the disappointment, Ward said his consistent performance has helped him keep his exemption for a crack at next year’s Clarica tourney.
Ward added he regretted not being able to play with his fellow club members at last Thursday’s “anniversary” tourney at Kitchen Creek.
“I would have like to have played in that. The club does a lot of things for me,” he said. “But I was trying to make to that next level.”
Ward said he’s also looking forward to next month’s Kitchen Creek Classic, where he lost to Aaron Loken by one shot last year.