Champ repeats at mid-am

SCOTT UNGER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

Elmhurst fought back yesterday, but it was already too late to upend the champ.

Garth Collings cruised to his fifth Manitoba Mid-Amateur Golf Championship by 11 strokes yesterday afternoon with a 3-over-par 74 and a three-round total of 1-over-par 214.

After carding a 66 Tuesday, Collings, like the rest of the field, was just trying to hang on yesterday.

"It was tough," Collings said, adding the heat and five-hour round didn't help alleviate the stress most guys were feeling. "It was more of a grind."

There was little drama entering the final round. Collings had an eight-stroke lead and the battle was more about second, third and fourth places -- and spots on the provincial team -- than it was for first place.

Collings is joined on the provincial team by the Elmhurst trio of Kelvin Loeb, Brian Katchnoski and Gary Kullman. Nationals are at the Club de golf Pinegrove in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. from August 21-25.

Everything will change in this event next year. The age requirement is being lowered from 40 to 25 to meet the changes most other provinces have already made. Collings isn't happy about the move -- not because of the stronger competition, but because the feel of the event will change.

"(The Royal Canadian Golf Association) have taken a great event where a lot of guys have a lot of fun playing in it (and negatively changed it)," Collings said. "It's not like the amateur where guys finish their round, hit balls at the range and that sort of stuff. These guys finish their round, go to the clubhouse, have a couple drinks and then talk about their game and laugh about it."

"Hopefully Manitoba will sit back and do what Alberta did and take three guys from the mid-am and the low guy in the amateur 25 and over... It's an option anyway."

Manitoba won the team event at last year's Canadian Mid-Amateur, but it won't be easy to defend, especially with most provinces already having made the age change.

"I think we have a really good chance still," Collings said. "But, we are playing 25-year-olds from everywhere except Quebec and Alberta."

Collings has been a mainstay on the amateur scene not only in Manitoba, but Canada as well for as long as most people can remember. He is questioning this move, along with others, that the national governing body has made in recent years.

"The RCGA has made some decisions that I don't like and a lot of guys don't like," Collings bluntly said.

And the RCGA could be hurting the game by helping a small demographic.

"I'd be surprised if we had as many guys out next year as we did this year," Collings said. "The only reason I say that is a lot of 40-year-olds would probably say, 'You know what? The hell with it. I am not going to play'. That's what the RCGA has done to golf."

The change was made to cater to college graduates who supposedly have no place to play at a national level, but Collings feels the majority's opinion has fallen on deaf ears.

"Basically," Collings said when asked if the RCGA wasn't listening to its players. "It's kind of like a lot of other things. (The RCGA) will do what they want to do."


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