Albertan bags first title at Skookum pro am

Golfers finished the afternoon round of the fourth annual Skookum Asphalt Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament wet from rain, mosquito-bitten and loving every minute of it.

Golfers finished the afternoon round of the fourth annual Skookum Asphalt Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament wet from rain, mosquito-bitten and loving every minute of it.

Despite wet conditions, there was a jovial atmosphere as players huddled around the score sheets, watching the official results go up, sharing war stories at Mountain View Golf Course on Saturday.

Chris Toth, one of 20 pros in the event, had an extra reason for high spirits. The pro from Stony Plain Golf Course outside of Edmonton scored a 67 in the morning and a 69 in the afternoon to win the event for his first time.

“It’s my third year here and it just keeps getting better every time I come,” said Toth. “It’s just fantastic, there’s not much more I can say. It’s another win and it’s fun – it’s golf.”

Toth placed third last year and tied for third in 2011. Saturday was his second win of the season, bagging a title at the Alberta Golf Association’s first pro tour event of the season.

The par 5s were good to Toth. He eagled hole 6 Saturday morning and birdied all but one of the remaining seven over the two rounds.

“This is the best I’ve ever played here,” said Toth. “I really just played the golf course, I didn’t try to over-power it or anything. Up here everything is lined with trees, if you get it slightly off line, you’re chipping out. So I made a plan: I didn’t want to chip out all day today – I only did it once and was up and down for par.

“The driver never came out of the bag. Two rounds of golf and I never hit the driver once.”

Toth is “guaranteed” to be back next year to defend his title, he said.

Grande Prairie’s Kent Fukushima finished four strokes behind Toth for second. Fukushima, who was the only Canadian Tour/PGA Tour Canada player in the pro-am, carded a 67 in the morning and a 73 in the rainy afternoon.

His driver saw a lot more action, for good or ill.

“They moved a lot of the tees up and, opposite of Chris, I felt good with the driver and hit with the driver way more than I normally would,” said Fukushima. “I did pay the price for it a few times, but I did have a lot of the shorter clubs in. I made a lot of birdies the first round, but I did make some bogeys because of that.

“The second round I did keep the pedal to the metal a bit, but I missed a lot of short putts and it stalled my progress.”

Saturday was Fukushima’s third Skookum pro-am, placing second in 2011.

“I need to get a ‘W’ here one of these days,” he added.

Last year’s winner, Ethan Danish of Two Eagles Golf Course in Kelowna, hit one stroke better than in 2012, but it wasn’t enough this time around.

Danish penciled in a 71 and a 72 for one under par and third place. He hit a pair of 72s last year for the win.

“I thought it was harder out there (this year),” said Danish. “I made too many bogeys. If I made more birdies, I could have done OK.

“In the first round, with three holes to go, I just blew three shots. I three-putted from 12 feet, made a couple dumb bogeys that cost me. It turned a 68 into a 71.”

Danish won an IPGA event at Tower Ranch early this year and a pro-am outside of Kelowna a couple months ago.

The thick woods lining every fairway at Mountain View’s championship course made him a little homesick.

“It looks like the holes are getting tighter,” said Danish. “I look forward to getting home. I miss the wide-open golf. I get scared every time we come out here that I’m going to lose a ball … The course is really good. I think the greens were better this year than last year.”

Mountain View pro Jeff Wiggins did Whitehorse proud, hitting a 145 over two rounds to tie for fourth with visiting pros Mike Haraguchi and Sam Young.

Wiggins hit one-under with a 71 in the morning, but “ran out of gas” with a 74 in the afternoon. He was burning the candle at both ends to get everything ready for the event.

“I shot 71 this morning, and I was tired, so 74 was the best I could do,” said Wiggins.

“I think this year was a success like last year,” he added of the pro-am. “One thing that was better than last year was we didn’t have the fog delay in the morning.”

Scoring was much closer on the amateur side of the tournament, with the top three teams just two strokes apart. The top two teams in the threesome best-ball competition both hit a 61 and were put into first and second through a retrogression process.

The first place team was Danish’s afternoon group of Sheldon King, Shane King and former Yukon champ Blaine Tessier.

Second went to pro Scott Shepherd’s afternoon team of Howie Firth, Craig Tuton and Bill Whitty.

Pro Brodie Carle’s afternoon team of Graham Irving, Fred Linville and James Edzerza snagged third with a 63.

Golf pros from B.C. Alberta, Manitoba – plus Mountain View pros Wiggins and Sean Lancaster – took part in the event.

The course record of 65, set by pro Trevor Metcalf in the inaugural pro-am in 2010, remained intact. Metcalf did not play in Saturday’s tournament.

Early estimates put the money raised for the Yukon Hospital Foundation at over $80,000, which will go towards “priority equipment in the emergency room and patient safety,” said foundation president Krista Prochazka.

All combined, the first three Skookum pro-ams raised more than $190,000 for the foundation.

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