Speirs holds off charge

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

You would certainly say Gavin Speirs has firsthand knowledge that no lead is safe in senior golf. Last year, the St. Charles golfer overcame a five-shot deficit to slip past Portage's Don Jackson by a single shot on the final round to win the Golf Manitoba Senior Men's Championship.

This year, the 61-year-old had just enough strokes to spare to keep Jackson from returning the favour.

The second round leader by three strokes, Speirs shot a five-over par 77 yesterday at St. Boniface for a three-round total of 226 to win his second consecutive Manitoba Senior Men's crown and third overall. Speirs finished two clear of Jackson at 228 and five better than Carman's Bill North in third place at 231.

"It's always nice (to have a couple of extra strokes) because you never know what's going to happen," said Speirs, who also won in 2001.

After bogeying the par-five 17th when he hit a tree in the middle of the fairway, Speirs needed only to par the 18th to secure the victory. It was a fact pointed out to him by his son Adam, a two-time Manitoba Amateur champ and current Canadian Tour pro who accompanied him yesterday.

"Donny almost got me today, it sounds like," said Speirs. " I got him last year. Adam told me on 18, 'Just hit on the green, dad.' "

This time around, it was Jackson making the final-round charge. Sitting in seventh spot six strokes back following Wednesday's second round, the 56-year-old Jackson posted the low score of the day with a one-over 73 with birdies on the third and 14th holes. But he just couldn't make up enough ground.

"I didn't think I had much of a chance (of catching Speirs)," said Jackson, who was in the second last group, just ahead of Speirs. "Although they told me if I had made my 10-foot birdie (putt) on the last hole and (Speirs had bogeyed he would have forced a playoff). He ended up making about an eight or nine footer going back up the hill (on the 18th) and he would have had to make that to win."

While Jackson was charging, North was struggling. Sitting in second three shots back after the second round, North moved to within two with an even par front nine highlighted by a birdie on the fifth and an eagle on the par-five ninth. But he went seven-over on the back nine to fall off the pace.

The top four finishers will represent Manitoba at the RCGA Canadian Men's Senior Championship, next month at Glendale.

Ken Mould of St. Charles and St. Boniface's David McLeod finished tied for fourth with 234 totals. No playoff was required for the final spot on the Manitoba team, as Mould is not available for the Canadian Senior Championship.

The start was delayed for three hours by yesterday morning's rainstorm. But once play started, the course treated the golfers well even if the scores didn't show it.

"The course was terrific, the greens were just excellent," said Speirs. "It's the best I've ever seen St. Boniface."


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