Morris wins Slam event in extra end

Ted Wyman -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

ST. JOHN'S -- The young gun who couldn't win the big one shot that reputation down in a hurry. John Morris, a 25-year-old Calgary resident who has lost finals twice at the Canada Cup and once each at the Brier and Players Championship to the likes of Randy Ferbey and Jeff Stoughton, finally earned a major title at Mile One Stadium yesterday.

Morris beat Kevin Martin of Edmonton 7-6 in an extra end to win the Grand Slam of Curling's $150,000 Players' Championship. This just hours after his team of Kevin Koe, Jamie Kennedy and Paul Moffatt dispatched Stoughton in a semifinal.

The Morris foursome takes home $43,000, a berth in the Alberta provincials as the top money winners from that province this year ($87,186) and newfound confidence that comes with wins over some of Canada's most successful skips.

'BIG THRILL'

"Those are big victories for us because if we were lacking something, it was confidence in beating guys like that," said Morris, who made a draw to the four-foot in the extra end for the winning point.

"It's good to get a big championship win with these guys, because it's our first year together. This is definitely a big thrill for us and hopefully we can ride it for next year."

Morris is a two-time world junior champion who represented Ontario at the Brier in 2002, but moved to Calgary last year. His team now plays in a province where he must get past Ferbey and Martin to get back to the Brier, so Morris knows it could take a while. That makes winning an event like the Players' Championship even sweeter.

'LIKE A MINI-BRIER'

"At the Brier only the top teams from each province can get there but here this is a cumulative thing," Morris said. "If you've done well all year you get an invite here and if you can win it, it's a better reward. It's just like a mini-Brier with the atmosphere and everything and it's really good for a young team like ours to get this kind of experience."

Martin said earlier in the week the Grand Slam is designed to build the abilities of players like Morris, but that didn't make losing yesterday any easier.

"I wish we didn't let him beat us, but it's tough to stop the kid," said Martin, who made a triple takeout in the 10th end to score two to tie the game. "Geez, I wanted to win that game. The Players' Championship is the toughest event to win and I hate to let it slip away when we had the chance."

Martin was somewhat noncommittal when asked if his team of Don Walchuk, Carter Rycroft and Don Bartlett will stay together next year.

"The odds aren't horrible," he said. "There's a pretty good chance.

"I will have to think about it the next month or so."


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