McCuaig recalls Lefty's collapse to avoid own

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

Chris McCuaig had a lot of things go through his mind while he played the 18th hole at the Rivermead Golf Club yesterday.

The Hunt Club's McCuaig started the final hole of the prestigious Alexander of Tunis tournament with a three-shot lead over Brockville's Matt McMahon.

He wound up needing all of it.

From tee to green, jumping into McCuaig's mind was Phil Mickelson's blow up on the final hole to lose the U.S. Open about a month ago.

Watching the guy he was playing make a triple bogey to hand McCuaig the City and District title a couple of years ago was another one.

But McCuaig, with friend Bill Holmes on the bag, managed to fight off both the strength-sapping heat and the demons to gut out a double-bogey for a one-shot win over McMahon and a breakthrough victory on the elite Quebec amateur circuit.

"I didn't want to be the guy to make a triple bogey to wind up in a playoff," said McCuaig, 31, after his second-round 71 and a two-round total of 5-under-par 139.

"What Phil Mickelson had just done was on my mind and what happened at the City and District a couple of years ago."

Rivermead's Marc-Etienne Bussieres had a 67 yesterday, the low round of the tournament to go with an opening 74, and tied for third with Louis-Pierre Godin of Ki-8-Eb (70-71-141).

McCuaig had been battling in the latter stages of the round with Charles-Etienne Boucher of Le Blainvillier, who had birdied three holes in a row, including a 60-foot bomb on 14, to get within a stroke of McCuaig.

But on the par-3 16th, Boucher got a bad lie in the rough, chipped poorly and then four-putted for a triple-bogey 6.

McCuaig knew McMahon had bogeyed 18, giving him a three-shot lead with one hole to go.

The 18th, a long par-4, has a green protected by a pond in front and on the left and a lateral water hazard to the right. McCuaig laid up off the tee with a 4-iron, then chunked his attempted layup with a wedge into a fairway bunker. He had to lay up his third shot short of the water, hit a wedge onto the green and two putted from the front, making about a 21/2-footer for the win, the biggest of his amateur career.

"This is is something you are judged by for the rest of your career," said McCuaig. "They can't take this away from you."

The win also put McCuaig in contention for Quebec's four-man Willingdon Cup team which represents the province at the Canadian Amateur, and sets up for a great Quebec Amateur Championship later this week at Camelot in Cumberland.

The Quebec Amateur winner automatically makes the team followed by the next three players on the Order of Merit (points are doubled for the QueAm).

Unofficially, McMahon, who also had a strong Duke of Kent, is in the lead followed by Duke winner Stephane Pellerin of Ki-8-Eb, McCuaig and 16-year-old Mathieu Rivard of Royal Bromont, who finished tied for fifth yesterday (69-73-142).

Pellerin (71-73-144) was tied for eighth.


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