Last year’s Skookum Asphalt Charity Pro-Am was decided by one stroke. This year’s was even closer.
A countback system decided the winner of the third annual event at Mountain View Golf Club on Saturday.
Visiting pros Ethan Danish and Laurie Pierce, both from Two Eagles Golf Course and Academy in Kelowna, finished their two rounds with a combined score of 144. However, Danish was given the win, having hit a lower score on the back nine of the afternoon round.
“It was a lot of fun; it was a really good event,” said Danish. “(The course) is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Everyone talked about how tight it was, and even being from the Okanagan where there’s a lot of tree-lined courses, but nothing like this.
“I didn’t expect anything like this. It was awesome. I was really impressed.”
Danish, who was playing the pro-am for his first time, parred the course with 72s both rounds. He hit two birdies and two bogeys in the morning, three birdies and three bogeys in the afternoon.
It was his second pro-am win of the summer, having won another outside of Kelowna a couple months ago.
“It’s been a good year,” added Danish.
Pierce has a lot more experience competing in the Yukon. In addition to playing the pro-am all three years, he played the territory’s original course at Annie Lake in 1967.
“I played good this morning, struggled a bit this afternoon, and it just worked out OK,” said Pierce. “We had a great time, Jeff (Wiggins) has done a great job hosting it, and everyone loves coming up here.”
Chris Toth, from the Riverside Golf Course in Edmonton, placed third with a 75 in the morning and a 70 in the afternoon.
A total of 24 club pros, including Mountain View’s Jeff Wiggins and Sean Lancaster, played in the pro-am. Pros from B.C., Alberta and Manitoba were flown in for the event.
The course record of 65, set by pro Trevor Metcalf in the inaugural pro-am in 2010, remained intact.
“Everything went very, very well. The course is in unbelievable shape,” said Wiggins. “The locals are raving about it as well, but all the guests that came to this event from outside the territory are just blown away by the condition of this golf course to the point of them telling me this is as good as anything down south.”
Claiming the top spot in the amateur portion of the tournament under a best-ball format was the team of Gary Hewitt, Glen Slonski and Vic Istchenko, a former Yukon men’s champ and senior men’s champ.
“Glen and I have played this tournament all three years; Vic was new this year,” said Hewitt. “Last year I think we were 13th or 14th. The year before, I don’t think we even placed.”
The three Yukoners, who were playing with pro Cory Draper, racked up 10 birdies in their round on their way to a 62. They even birdied all four of the course’s Par 3s.
“We got lucky and got a professional who’s a very good putter and he saved us on several holes,” said Hewitt. “Other than that, everyone on the team came up big when we had to. Everything was magic today.”
Though his team didn’t win, Saturday’s round is one Whitehorse’s Gord Zealand will never forget. After more than 40 years playing, Zealand got his first hole-in-one on Hole 13.
“It was great. We saved two shots and got our team in the hunt,” said Zealand. “The pro (Matt Barkway) had put his (shot) real close we could see and mine hit in the same general area but the way the sun was shining we couldn’t really tell.
“I was walking around the back of the green looking for where it might have gone.”
Unfortunately for Zealand, who happens to the president of the Yukon Golf Association, his was not on one of the two holes in which a hole-in-one would have bagged him either a brand new car or a fishing boat.
The final total has not been calculated, but the charity tourney raised an estimated $70,000 for the Yukon Hospital Foundation. The pro-am raised about $20,000 in 2010 and $90,000 in 2011.
“The tournament was awesome – it’s always a lot of fun,” said Zealand.
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