Stewart still has some game

CHRIS STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

Ray Stewart will climb on a plane for Wales tonight, both his confidence and his bank account benefiting from a nice boost.

Hitting every fairway will do that.

Hitting every green will do that.

Shooting a second straight 68 and winning the Canadian PGA Seniors Championship will do that.

The former PGA Tour regular from Abbotsford, B.C., put on a ball-striking clinic at the Marshes at Brookstreet Resort for a two-shot victory over Ken Tarling of Sanford and Norm Jarvis of Surrey, B.C., who had led going into yesterday's final round.

Stewart earned $4,000 for the victory on the strength of rounds of 70-68-68 and a 54-hole total of 206, 10-under.

"It was a fun battle down the stretch ... and the right guy won," said Stewart, the 55-year-old who was playing in the championship for the first time because there had usually been a conflict with the Senior British Open. There was no conflict last year, but Stewart was injured.

He'll be getting on that plane to head over to the UK in the hopes of qualifying for the Senior British Open at Sunningdale in a couple of weeks. First, there will be some practice and golf at Celtic Manor in Wales (billionaire Terry Matthews owns both the Marshes and Celtic Manor, which will host the Ryder Cup matches in September of next year).

Would yesterday's winnings buy, perhaps, some nice scotch during the trip?

"Well, that was happening anyway," said Stewart, who is making the trip with a couple of friends. "I love going to play some of those old courses. If I don't qualify (for the Senior British Open), we'll be off on some kind of adventure."

Stewart started yesterday two shots behind Jarvis, but quickly cut the lead in half on the first hole when his eight-footer toppled in the right side of the cup for a birdie. Jarvis, meanwhile, showed a hint of the putting struggles that would haunt him. He had switched to a cross-handed grip halfway through the opening round, but clearly didn't look comfortable on the greens.

Jarvis missed a couple of opportunities to build his lead, missing putts in the six-foot range for birdie on the monstrous par-5 second hole and on the par-5 fourth.

Clinging to his one-shot lead, he made a bold play on the par-4 risk-reward seventh hole, striping a driver down the middle of the fairway and converting the birdie putt after a short pitch.

WIND WREAKS HAVOC

The turning point was the par-3 eighth where Jarvis' tee shot into a strong wind -- which had sprung up after the rain subsided -- spun back into the water hazard fronting the green. He made a double-bogey, leaving him tied with Stewart and Tarling at 7-under.

"He didn't putt well at all and he made a big mistake on eight," said Stewart, "and opened the door for us."

After both Stewart and Tarling birdied the par-5 ninth, Jarvis fell two of the pace when he bogeyed the par-5 10th.

That's when Stewart took over. He almost holed his approach on the short par-4 11th and, after Tarling missed a birdie putt on the same line, rolled in the 12-foot birdie putt to take a lead he would not relinquish.

Jarvis battled back with a birdies on the 11th, 12th and 14th holes, but Stewart matched his birdie on 14 to keep a one-stroke lead. When Jarvis missed the green with his approach on the 18th and couldn't get up and down, Stewart made par for his two-shot victory.

Stewart is planning on going to Q-School for the Champions Tour this fall and said he would relish the chance to compete as a fully exempt player on the Champions Tour. He's tried the Monday qualifying route, "and it wasn't fun."

In the meantime, he's got a shot at the Senior British Open and will ask for a sponsor's exemption to the Champions Tour event in Seattle, where he has played well in the past.

"I've still got some game," he said, "but I've got to prove it."

He proved it yesterday.

CHRIS.STEVENSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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