Ex-pro turns back clock

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

There's a new face on the Manitoba men's amateur golf scene.

It's one to be reckoned with.

Dave Michaleski, a 31-year-old from Selkirk, won the men's medallist honours Sunday at Golf Manitoba's Match Play Championship qualifying at Carman Golf Club.

Michaleski, who plays out of Larter's at St. Andrews, fired a 2-under-par 69 in extremely windy conditions to beat Elmhurst's Peter More by two strokes. Qualifying was supposed to be 36 holes, but Saturday's round at La Verendrye was washed out by rain.

"Considering the conditions, it was quite good," Michaleski said yesterday. "It was probably one of the windiest days I've every played on.

'NICE TO FINISH FIRST'

"It's obviously nice to finish first in the qualifier, but in the big scheme of things it doesn't really mean a great deal, because there's still 31 other guys that have just as good a shot as I do."

The top 32 players, who had to shoot 81 or better, qualified for the match play portion of the tournament, which begins Saturday at Niakwa.

Steven Bucko of Larter's and Brian Kornelsen of Pine Ridge tied for third with 72s, while Niakwa's Todd Slatnik rounded out the top five with a 73.

Michaleski burst on to the amateur scene in the last year, but that's because he's been an amateur since only June 1 of last year.

He turned pro when he was 19 and spent the next eight years as an assistant at Selkirk and Larter's. In 1999, however, he decided he'd had enough of the golf business.

"I really wanted to get back into amateur golf and be competitive," Michaleski said. "The biggest reason why I got out of the golf business is because I'm a golfer at heart, and being in the golf business you don't get to play a ton of golf. I love to play and I've got some goals."

He went back to school to take computer classes and has spent the last four years working as a self-described "computer geek" for the City of Winnipeg's finance department.

It wasn't until last June that Michaleski got his amateur status back, and he quickly made up for lost time. He tied for sixth in the amateur last July and then won the rural amateur at his old home course of Selkirk in August.

"It was definitely a good start to my amateur career," he said. "It was really nice to get a win and kinda feel like I got off the schnide early."

Michaleski has eight years of amateur status to make up for, and that only makes him hungrier to win.

"I feel like I've got a good chance to compete, and I feel like I've got as good a chance to win tournaments as a Peter More or a Kevin Kotyk and guys like that," he said. "I feel like I belong, I guess.

"Playing as a pro for a few years there, obviously that's not tour-level golf or anything like that, but you mature a lot as a player.

"Even though there's a lot of young guys now that are obviously good players and have played college golf, I feel like I've got some experience on my side."

CHIP SHOTS: Rhonda Orr of Southwood was the women's medallist Sunday at Carman, firing a 12-over 83. Elmhurst's Donna Brownridge also shot 83 and is the second seed. There are only nine women in the field ... Winnipeg's Spencer Harris, 16, carded rounds of 79-76 to win the overall title at the Canadian Junior Golf Association' Manitoba PGA Junior Championship over the weekend at Bridges. Winnipeg's Andrew Gaudry shot 79-79 to win the 17-19 age group, while Winnipeg's Steven Minion, 13, fired 95-91 to take the 13-and-under division.


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