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Yukon golfers miss the cut at amateur open

Three Yukon golfers teed off on one of the newest and then one of the oldest courses in Winnipeg, Man., at the start of the week.

Three Yukon golfers teed off on one of the newest and then one of the oldest courses in Winnipeg, Man., at the start of the week.

Whitehorse players Landon Kulych, Dan King and Steve Estey took on the best amateur golfers in the country at the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship.

The three missed the cut after two rounds.

“It was fantastic. It was a first class event the whole way,” said Kulych. “It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever been to before in my entire golf career.

“The tournament itself is over a hundred years old, which is amazing to start with.”

The amateur open put the players’ versatility to the test. They first played the three-year-old, par 72 course at Southwood Golf and Country Club on Monday.

On Tuesday they played the par 70 course at Elmhurst Golf and Country Club, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

“We were essentially playing on two different golf courses that were complete polar opposites,” said Kulych. “One was a wide open links style golf course and the other one was this really old golf course with huge trees and fast greens that were less forgiving than I would have liked.”

“I really feel I became a way better golfer in the week spent there between my practice rounds and my two competitive rounds than before I left,” he added.

Kulych, the 2007 Yukon champ who placed second at this year’s championship, led the Yukon team in Winnipeg.

Playing in his first Canadian amateur open, Kulych carded a 76 and 80 to finish plus-14.

“The 76 put me in the top half of the field of 248 top amateur golfers in the country, which surpassed my goals in my head,” said Kulych. “I didn’t think I could be that far up the field.

“On the second round, I played the last five holes six over par to shoot an 80. I wasn’t really hitting it that poorly, they just have some really difficult closing holes in that golf course.”

King, who, as this year’s Yukon men’s champ, was captain of the Yukon team, had a bad opening round with 93. He then cleaned it up with an 81 on Tuesday.

“I really was happy to see him pull it together the second day,” said Kulych. “He’s a great golfer and I know he’s capable of shooting lower than he posted. It was nice to see him post the 81 the second day.”

Estey, who moved to Whitehorse from New Brunswick last fall, put up an 83 and an 87 over the two rounds.

The amateur championship, which was first held in 1895, includes a team component. The Willingdon Cup, introduced in 1927, goes to the province or territory with the two lowest scores over the first two rounds.

Yukon placed ahead of Newfoundland to finish second last.

“It made us hungry for the event next year,” said Kulych. “I’m already thinking about next year’s qualifier and I know some of my competitors are as well. I think next year it’s out in Toronto somewhere, which would be a lot of fun.

“And again, we have to put out a huge thanks to the Yukon Golf Association and to Mountain View Golf Club, our head pro (Jeff Wiggins) and our assistant pro (Graham Frey). If it wasn’t for them, golf wouldn’t be heading in the direction it’s heading here in the Yukon. We’re just incredibly grateful for that.”

This year was just the second time Yukon sent players to compete in the amateur open. The three Whitehorse players were selected over three rounds, including the two rounds of the Yukon Golf Championships last month.

“The one big thing about this one was it stirred up a lot of interest in it, so I expect next year to have a deeper field contending for the spots,” said Wiggins, the director of Whitehorse’s Mountain View Golf Course.

“I think our performances are going to escalate now that the training, the exposure and all the groundwork has been set up for these guys to qualify for the Canadians ... There are now eight or nine guys at the club and in town who want to go and are hungry to go.”

The amateur championship wrapped up Thursday with New Zealand’s James Beale taking first with a six-under after four rounds. Ontario’s Taylor Pendrith and California’s Jonathan Garrick tied for second.

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