WASAGAMING — Not only have Dale Coulter and Jay Thiesen never won a Tamarack golf tournament title before, neither of them have even played in the final.
That changes today when the two meet for the men’s championship at the Clear Lake Golf Course at 12:33 p.m. It wasn’t the final most were expecting as Thiesen, a 27-year-old from Russell, took on four-time champion and this year’s medallist Jared Jacobson in Friday’s semifinals, coming through with a 2 and 1 victory.
“It feels pretty good,” Thiesen said. “I’ve never been so nervous over that last little (three-foot) putt I had there on 17 (to win the match). It was pretty nerve-racking, but it feels good and I’m glad I get to play Dale tomorrow. He’ll make it a little easier on the nerves and that will be fun.”
Thiesen admits he can get too focused at times, but Coulter cracked some jokes in Friday’s matches that relaxed the Russell native. That was key on the back nine as Jacobson won the 12th and 13th holes to even the match, but Coulter’s quick wit eased Thiesen’s mind and he won the next two and halved the final two to secure a berth in his first final.
Meanwhile, Coulter has been favoured at past Tamaracks, but always left disappointed and short of the championship final. He’s played more golf than he normally does this year, mainly at the Shilo Country Club, but he believes he’s finally broken through this year because of his approach to the matches.
“I came up with a little more free-wheeling because it’s match play,” the 48-year-old Brandonite said. “I’ve always played the game more score-wise and the matches just got to me. This year I tried not to worry about score and just play hole by hole.”
Coulter advanced to the final by building a two-hole lead through 10 and halved the final seven to earn a 2 and 1 win over Toronto’s Kevin Pratt.
Coulter and Thiesen don’t know each other very well, but after playing in the same foursome for the last two rounds, they’re looking forward to finally facing each other.
“I played with Dale the last two days and he’s playing really well,” Thiesen said. “I think it will be really close.”
Both Thiesen, who won the Grey Owl in 2012, and Coulter are hungry for the title, but Coulter has a little extra motivation. He is looking to get closer to even ground with his brother Grant — the 1992 and 1988 Tamarack champion — in bragging rights.
“We both have Grey Owl titles and he’s got the Tamarack title, so that’s always held over your head,” Coulter said. “It doesn’t matter because you can’t win two at once and he has two, so I’d still be one behind even if I did win. It’s a long way yet to worry about.”
Meanwhile, Brandon’s Chris Coulter had a chance to have a husband and wife play in championship event finals, but couldn’t make it come true as she fell 2 and 1 to La Salle’s Janice Young in her women’s division semifinal. Coulter struggled with her putter on Nos. 3 and 5 — the 12th and 14th holes of the match for her — to go three down, and she couldn’t recover.
“Janice played really steady today. She played great,” Coulter said. “I got behind a few holes and would have loved a few more putts to drop, but that’s golf.
“That would have been really cool (to both play in finals), but I’m really happy for him.”
Young, who was born and raised in Brandon, will take on former Brandonite Julie Card in today’s women’s final, which tees off at 11:57 a.m. Card beat Brandon’s Sherri Ferguson 5 and 3 in the other semifinal.