Matt Burman of Brandon competes in the annual Tamarack golf tournament on Sunday morning at the Clear Lake Golf Course. (COLIN CORNEAU/THE BRANDON SUN)
WASAGAMING — Matt Burman didn’t think he has played golf very well this summer, and he’s hoping he turned the corner at the opening weekend at the 79th annual Tamarack at the Clear Lake Golf Course.
The Brandonite came out firing and birdied six of his first eight holes on Saturday en route to shooting a tournament-low 67.
He followed that up with a 69 to cruise to the men’s medallist title.
Burman said he just got rolling after the quick start but was helped by his preliminary round group — which included fellowing Brandonites Nolan Tutkaluk and Brad Pardy and Dauphin’s Regan Hedley.
"We’re all kind of close," the 2007 Tamarack champion said. "I’ve played with Nolan and with Brad at times. He’s like my little brother. It’s just the bonding. We all get along and it’s fun to be in that group. It’s just like any other round. It is a tournament round, but it’s more like a round with buddies just playing some golf."
The group proved to be a strong one with Pardy and Tutkaluk both qualifying for the championship flight after shooting 147 in the two rounds.
Cumming and seven-time Tamarack champion Bruce North, who’s from Winnipeg, both finished at 143 to reach the championship flight and Cumming feels great. He had never shot below 70 at Clear Lake prior to Sunday and he can’t wait for the match play to start on Tuesday.
"I’m feeling pretty good," he said. "I haven’t played a lot of golf this year, I’ve been out about once a week, but I’m playing well and having fun."
While Burman, North and Cumming cruised into the top flight, four players battled it out for the final two spots in a playoff.
Brandon’s Jason Thorpe bounced back from driving into a sand trap and was the only player to birdie the first hole to lock up the 15th seed. Brandon’s Kevin Lamb missed his par putt and was eliminated. Selkirk’s Mark Starodub then birdied the second playoff hole to beat Winnipeg’s Walter Debets and advances to face Burman in a first-round matchup.
Starodub was happy to make the championship flight and figures he should be relaxed on Tuesday.
"Now I’ve got to play the guy who’s the low, but that’s OK," he said. "There’s no expectations for me. The pressure’s on him. It’s nice to be there and as long as you’re in the championship, it’s nice to be there. It’s what I came for."
Burman doesn’t quite see it that way. He knows he’s the top seed going into match play, but he believes everyone is on an even playing field now.
"Medallist is just a seed," he said. "You still have to play everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re first, second, seventh.
"… Everyone who makes the top 16 knows they have a chance to win. You’re a good player when you make championship flight, and it’s match play. It’s totally different from stroke play and anything can happen. You just have to go out there and play your own game and not worry about your opponent."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 20, 2012