It would have been a heartbreaker for Whitehorse’s Phil Mullin to have lost the Yukon Golf Championships after his opening round on Saturday.
The 28-year-old went three under par with a 69, followed by a 75 on Sunday, to win the men’s amateur division at the championships held at Mountain View Golf Course.
Mullin’s 69 on Saturday was just four strokes from the course record set by professional Trevor Metcalf at the 2010 Skookum Asphalt Charity Pro-Am.
“It ties my best round on this course, but it was easily the best I’ve played ever,” said Mullin. “I was hitting it exactly how far I wanted to, I was hitting exactly where I wanted to. I really only miss-hit three shots all day and I was able to make up for those mistakes.
“If I had putted really well, it could easily have been a 65 or better. All my birdie putts were within 15 feet. I hit 13 greens.”
Mullin now has five Yukon championship wins under his belt including last year.
He had five birdies on Saturday and three on Sunday. In Saturday’s round, he came within a few centimetres of an eagle on Hole 11, leaving the ball next to the cup on a wedge shot from 88 yards out.
“I played really smart,” said Mullin. “On the Par 5s – on Hole 3 in particular – I didn’t even bother hitting driver, I just hit it in the fairway. I played really conservative. I ended up with a lot of wedges into the greens, so I could be aggressive with those shots.
“The weird thing is I don’t practise a lot anymore,” he added. “This year my best round up to now was a 76. I hadn’t shown any reason that I could play like that.
“These tournaments, lately, have been won with scores in the high 70s. Friday I came out and played an 85, Saturday I came out and played my best round ever.”
Placing second was 2010 men’s champ Blaine Tessier with a 76 and an 84. In third was 2007 champ Landon Kulych with a 77 and 86.
Mullin began to drop the seven-stroke lead going into Sunday with a triple bogey on Hole 4. But consecutive birdies on Holes 10 and 11 reestablished some breathing room.
“I had the same game plan, I just didn’t hit the ball nearly as good,” said Mullin of Sunday. “Whatever I was doing yesterday, didn’t work today.
“That’s why I play golf – I play to win these tournaments,” he added. “I’m always happy when I can come through.”
The tournament’s other two divisions were also won by past champions.
Matt Lafferty captured the senior men’s division, his first since winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2008.
“It is a surprise, I haven’t been playing well this year,” said Lafferty. “(These scores) are still high from my normal game. I was playing with an eight handicap last year and this year I’m 13. I don’t know if one year in age can do that.”
Lafferty pinned an 88 on Saturday and an 84 on Sunday.
Ken Taylor placed second for the second year in a row, hitting a 93 and 87. Brian Sweeney snagged third with a 95 and a 94.
For Lafferty, with the title comes an obligation.
“It means I’m going to have to defend again (next year),” he said.
Ricky Schmok is making his last season as a junior a good one.
The 18-year-old regained his 2010 title, winning the junior men’s division with an 89 and a 91 over the two rounds.
Schmok, like seemingly the entire junior field, was less than thrilled with his score.
“It feels good. I would have liked to win it a different way,” said Schmok. “It feels good to get it, no matter how I got it… At least it was close with everyone. It wasn’t a blowout.”
In second was James McGrath, scoring a 98 and a 90. Placing third was Chris Anderson with consecutive 94s.
Schmok began the opening round strong, paring the first four holes and birdying the fifth, but he was unable to maintain that level of play for the rest of the day.
“Yesterday’s chip-in for birdie on (Hole) 5 was really exciting,” said Schmok. “That’s when everything went downhill. Until then, everything was good.”
No women players competed in this year’s championships, leaving the women’s title vacant.
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