Staying hot in the cold

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

Kevin Giesbrecht didn't let a long, cold Manitoba winter cool him off one bit.

The 17-year-old from Carman, who won last year's provincial junior men's golf championship, secured medallist honours over the weekend at Winkler Golf Club during qualifying for the Manitoba men's match play championship.

Giesbrecht fired an even-par 71 in Saturday's opening round and followed it up with a 74 on Sunday to clinch the top spot by one stroke over Pine Ridge's Brad Kirton and Winkler's Tyler Friesen.

"It's all right," Giesbrecht said yesterday from his Carman home. "I've never really played in a match play tournament like this, so we'll see.

"... I think it'll be pretty good. I make a lot of birdies, so that's the way to go in match play."

Elmhurst's Peter More, the defending champion, had the first-round lead after a 2-under 69 on Saturday, but he ballooned to a 79 on Sunday and ended up as the fourth seed.

The matches, which haven't yet been finalized, begin Saturday at Niakwa Country Club. All of them will be contested at Niakwa, with the final slated for Saturday, June 2.

Giesbrecht, a Grade 11 student who still has two years of junior eligibility remaining, says he hit the ground running this spring thanks to winter workouts at the Golf Dome.

"I've been working with (RCGA coach) Derek Ingram on my swing, and it's starting to come around," said Giesbrecht, who eagled Winkler's par-5 first hole on both Saturday and Sunday.

Giesbrecht will need to trust his swing this summer, because he has several big events on his plate. He will compete in the Future Links tournament in Minnedosa next month, U.S. junior qualifying in Fargo, N.D., in early July and then the Manitoba junior men's and amateur tournaments.

"And hopefully that'll lead to maybe the Canadian junior and the Canadian amateur, and maybe even the U.S. junior," he said. "We'll see what happens."

JUDI RULES: Only seven women entered the women's match play championship, and Elmhurst's Judi Lidstone shot 81-76 at Winkler to clinch the No. 1 spot.

Lidstone finished three shots clear of John Blumberg's Michelle Gisiger, who carded rounds of 82-78.

WHAT A TROOP-ER: Brandon's Kaitlin Troop is having a spectacular season with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds women's golf team.

Troop, who won the Manitoba women's amateur and junior titles last summer, helped the T-Birds finish third at last week's NAIA championship in San Diego.

Troop fired 75-73-82-84 to finish as the top T-Bird and 15th overall individually, which earned here NAIA All-American honours.

The T-Birds were tied for the lead after two rounds with eventual champions from Oklahoma City University, but a poor third round dropped them from contention.

Troop helped UBC get to nationals by capturing medallist honours at the regional tournament late last month in Christina Lake, B.C. She had a three-day total of 1-under 215, which included a UBC modern-day record of 67 in the second round. Troop, a sophomore, won the event by 12 strokes.

"Kaitlin's 67 was one of the most exciting things that's happened in our program's history," UBC coach Chris MacDonald told gothunderbirds.ca.

The T-Birds' season isn't over yet. They will take part in the RCGA's Canadian University/College Championship, which starts a week from today in Fredericton, N.B. UBC has won the women's championship all four years the event has been held.


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