Men’s medallist Rob Hall watches his putt during the second round of men’s qualifying at the 80th annual Tamarack golf tournament at the Clear Lake Golf Course on Sunday. (CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN)
WASAGAMING — The second time was sweeter than the first for Rob Hall.
The Brandonite owned the Clear Lake Golf Course over the weekend, shooting 66 on Saturday and 69 on Sunday to become the men’s medallist at the 80th annual Tamarack. It is the second time Hall will go into match play as the top seed in the championship flight, having accomplished the feat in 1999, but this time he feels like he earned it.
"The second round got rained out (in 1999), so I was a tainted medallist," said Hall, whose 135 is two shots off the unofficial qualifying record of 133 set by Jarod Crane in 2008. "I guess it’s more official this time.
"It’s cool because there’s a lot of great players up here and you have to shoot two really good rounds to do it. I’ll take it."
Hall came into the Tamarack cautiously optimistic that he could be a force to be reckoned with. He was hitting the ball well and had his putter rolling in a couple of fun rounds before the eight-day tournament began, but he wasn’t sure if his success would continue when he teed off.
He got off to a great start on Saturday by matching Winnipeg’s Tyler Rice at 6 under par, giving the pair a three-stroke lead over Russell’s Jay Thiesen and Brandon’s Nolan Tutkaluk, who were tied for third at 69.
No one, however, could match Hall on Sunday as Rice managed a 71, Thiesen posted a 72 and Tutkaluk struggled to an 82.
Rice had chances to move into the lead, but he had a lot of birdie putts stop within a foot of the hole, leaving him tap-ins for par. Rice and Thiesen still qualified for the championship flight.
While Hall believed he might do well in the qualifying portion of the Tamarack, his scores surprised him.
"Let’s face it, I think 66 is my lowest tournament score ever," he said. "That’s above any expectations I had. The conditions were perfect. You saw a lot of low scores yesterday and today. It’s right there for you if you’re playing well at all. If you make those putts, then you can certainly get under par here for sure."
Although Hall is happy to post the best two-round score of the weekend, he knows the hard part of the tournament is coming up in match play, which begins Tuesday. He won’t alter his approach to his round even though he is going in as the top seed.
"It won’t change how I look at things because every match is going to be tough and you have to keep playing well," he said. "The old saying that anyone can beat anyone in match play is true in 18 holes. I’m going to have to keep playing like I am if I want to keep going."
Meanwhile, a new men’s champion will be crowned this year as defending champion Dave Unger missed the championship flight.
He struggled during the weekend and shot a 153 during the two days.
"I’m a little disappointed," said Unger, who couldn’t recall the last time he had so many lip-outs. "I wish I would have played better. The field is obviously very talented with the low scores that were posted the first day. I would have liked to be in the first two flights, but that’s OK."
The tournament continues today with the women, senior men, junior men and junior women playing their qualifying rounds.
CHIP SHOTS: A pair of Brandonites hit holes-in-one on the opening day of play. Tim Gregoire earned his on the 102-yard 17th hole, while Dustin Dyck aced the 138-yard 12th … Jarod Crane and Jared Jacobson are the only players from last year’s championship flight to qualify for this year’s championship flight.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 19, 2013