Junior puts it all together

PAUL TURENNE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

For most golfers, it takes a lot of practice, private lessons, maybe some new equipment, and plenty of time to shave 10 strokes off their game.

But Chris Gardner did it in one day.

The 18-year-old Dryden, Ont., resident shot a three-under 68 yesterday in the first round of the 2005 Manitoba junior golf championships at John Blumberg Golf Course, and now holds a two-stroke lead going into today's second round.

Yesterday was only the second time Gardner had played Blumberg. He had gone the day before to try out the course and shot a 78.

"I really don't know (how I did it)," he said. "It all just came together I guess. Every shot was solid. I just played conservative and the putts dropped."

Gardner said the fast greens at Blumberg threw him off during his practice round there, but he had the necessary soft putting touch mastered in time for yesterday.

Garrett Hnatiuk, who played in Gardner's foursome yesterday, said Gardner's 68 might have been the best game of golf he's ever seen.

"He was six-under after nine holes," said Hnatiuk. "Every drive he had was in the fairway, and every approach shot was on the green."

Gardner holds a two-stroke lead over three golfers, 15-year-old Riley Unger of Plum Coulee, 18-year-old Steven Bryk of Atikokan, Ont., and 18-year-old Kenny Keeler of Portage la Prairie.

Nathan Wazney of Dugald is alone in fifth, after shooting an even 71 yesterday.

Defending champion Mike Goldberg, along with Jesse Skelton, Joey McInnes, Cody MacAulay, and Robbie Untinen are tied for sixth at one-over.

The 13 girls competing for the junior girls title didn't get a chance to finish yesterday because Blumberg was a last minute replacement for the first round, as South Interlake Golf and Country Club and Transcona Golf Club, which were scheduled to host rounds Tuesday and yesterday, were too wet to play earlier this week. Blumberg could only offer tee times beginning at 1 p.m. yesterday, and that left about four foursomes of boys and all the girls fighting a losing battle to complete their rounds as darkness fell.

Those golfers will finish their rounds at Blumberg this morning and then head to South Interlake, near Warren, for the second round.

The field of more than 100 boys will be cut to the low 60 and ties for tomorrow's third and final round. There will be no cut on the girls side.

The top four golfers on both the boys and girls sides will go on to represent Manitoba at the Canadian national juniors later this summer.


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