Hitting the turn Sunday, in the back of his mind Brett Shewchuk was thinking about how to hang on to second place.
The 21-year-old Lakehead University student had just shot a lacklustre four-over 40 on the front nine at Whitewater Golf Course and had fallen six strokes behind Canadian Tire District Amateur second-round leader Robbie Untinen and his even par 36.
But a one-under 35 on the back was enough to earn him a spot in a playoff, which he won on the first hole with a birdie, to capture his first local major title.
What a wild ride, he said.
“I kind of thought I was out of it, but I just wanted to play aggressive at the start of the back nine and see where it went from there,” Shewchuk said.
Where it went was all downhill for Untinen, at least for the first four holes coming home.
His game started going south on 10 with a bogey from the sand. He three-putted the 11th to take another bogey, then disaster struck on the par 5 12th.
Untinen’s drive hopped into the hazard guarding the right side of the fairway, a shot that was about three feet from being perfect. Forced to take a drop, his third found the rough and his fourth sailed over the green and he took a lost ball.
He hit the green with his sixth shot, but three-putted again for a quadruple bogey nine and all of a sudden the match was tied.
Shewchuk took the lead on the next with a par, Untinen missing a seven-footer and having to settle for yet another bogey.
“I hit a pretty good three wood, I just didn’t fly it far enough over the hazard. Unfortunately I made a couple of bad swings there and it kind of cost me the tournament,” a disappointed Untinen said.
“I hit it well all weekend. Hats off to Brett, too; he pushed it all the way to the end and just unfortunately it didn’t happen for me today.”
After both golfers birdied the par 4 14th, Shewchuk stuck his tee shot on the par 3 15th to about seven feet and calmly sank the putt, opening a two-shot lead.
But to Untinen’s credit, he refused to quit.
His approach on 16 stopped a foot from the hole, leading to an early birdie and when Shewchuk needed three putts to salvage a bogey, the match was tied again.
Shewchuck couldn’t convert a birdie putt on 18 for the win, but faced with an identical third shot in the playoff, he dropped his chip to within three feet. It was academic once Untinen missed his 10-foot birdie.
"It was the exact same shot I had in regulation. I just hit it a little harder than I did in regulation and was a couple of feet closer," Shewchuk said, his next tournament the men's club event at Northern Lights. "I feel good about it. I don't know, I'm just happy with the way things went today."
Both golfers finished 216 holes with identical 218 totals.
Four-time champion Barry Caland, who was two under through three holes on Sunday, finished six shots back in third after a four-over 76. Robert Cumming was fourth at 227, ballooning to an 82 on Sunday.
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