MORDEN -- When the final putt went in, it turned out the final result was never in question.
Pine Ridge's Brad Kirton fired a 3-under-par 69 yesterday in the final round of the Manitoba Men's Amateur Golf Championship at the Minnewasta Golf and Country Club to win the event with four-round total of 9-under-par 279, which was two shots better than defending champion Matt Johnston of St. Charles.
"It's a relief, a big relief," said Kirton.
"After I lost the match play, I really dedicated myself to practising and being better, being better mentally. That was the thing that pushed me over the edge this week, I think."
Kirton was beaten 8-and-7 by Ben Bandura in the Manitoba Match Play Championship back in June and got the redemption he was looking for this week at the amateur, which was split between the Bel Acres Golf and Country Club north of Winnipeg and Minnewasta.
While Johnston kept hanging around near the top of the leader board in the final round, Kirkton built a five-stroke lead by going three-under in the front nine and made an even-par 36 coming back in to hold off Johnston, who was three-under-par over the final nine.
"I didn't get greedy and managed my game," Kirton said. "I played within myself and didn't try to do anything too spectacular."
After the round, Johnston gave all the credit to Kirton for not allowing him back in the tournament over the final few holes.
"Brad played a great round of golf today," he said.
Johnston plans to turn pro at the end of the summer, which will end his amateur career that included four years at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Still, he is pleased with how is final Manitoba Men's Amateur unfolded.
"It was a good week. I hit a lot of good golf shots," said Johnston, who ironically came in two shots less this year versus his win last year.
"I'm feeling good about my golf game. I just have to keep doing the things that I am doing. This week I definitely didn't make enough putts, so we have to work to do before the Canadian Amateur."
Kirton's tournament score of 279 is the fourth lowest in tournament history. Adam Speirs and Mike Keast each shot 278 in 2001 and 2002 respectively en route to their wins. The best score ever at the Manitoba amateur is 275 by Selkirk product and Nationwide Tour pro Glen Hnatiuk in 1986.
The beautiful weather southern Manitoba has seen in the past week deserves at least a little credit for the low scores that saw seven players finish at even or better.
"It was nice to be really warm and stay loose and not stiffen up," Kirton said. "There were no rain delays where you didn't have to come in. It was just conducive to good scoring."
Breezy Bend's Garth Collins and Niakwa's Mike Keast finished third and fourth to join Kirton and Johnston on Team Manitoba for the Canadian Men's Amateur from Aug. 10-17 in Saskatoon.