Mid-Amateur gets face lift

SCOTT UNGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

The over-the-hill boys club known a Manitoba Mid-Amateur Golf Champion got a face lift in the age bracket for this season, which has left the 40 and older crowd grumpy and the 25-39 crowd jovial.

The Manitoba Mid-Amateur began yesterday at the Rossmere Golf and Country Club for the first time under a new format that sees the age floor lowered from 40 and older to 25 and older.

"I don't like the change," said Breezy Bend's Mark Olson, who shot an opening round seven-over-par 77.

"I don't know if a guy that's 26 needs to come and play against guys like us.

"It doesn't change much for me because I don't stand a chance against these guys anyway. I am just here really for fun, but that's the whole idea. A lot of the guys really thought sort of the same. Some guys were so far ahead it didn't matter. When you start putting 26 year olds in the mix, they can play in the amateur. I thought mid meant something between senior and my amateur days."

The reason for the change, which has happened across Canada, is to allow players who have finished their college career a place to continue playing at a high level and it gives players in their late 20s and 30s a chance to compete against what is supposed to be equal competition. In essence, it's a second-tier Manitoba Amateur, which usually sees the best college and junior players in the province at the top of its leader board.

"The amateur for a guy like me, who is not one of the top players, is kind of tough to score and be there with the top guys," said Quarry Oaks' Andy Lavack. He opened in a tie for 19th with a five-over-par 75.

"This is giving a more even playing field for me and I'm more confident coming in. I decided to opt out for the amateur and to come here this year instead."

The majority of the field this week at Rossmere is of the over 40 variety and they will also compete for a Mid-Masters title. Also added incentive to the older guys is the fact that at least two of the four players on the provincial coming out of this event for nationals must be from the Mid-Masters group.

Not surprisingly, Manitoba Amateur champ Brad Kirton leads the field after the first day with a three-under-par 67, but the older fellas are staying in the mix. Transcona's Mike Berney, 52, is a shot back of Kirton, while 49-year-old Garth Collings of Breezy Bend is two strokes back along with Breezy Bend's Brad DePape, 25, and Rossmere's Rob Oliphant, 42.

MOAR LEADS RURAL JR.: Portage's Daniel Moar fired a four-over-par 75 yesterday at the Killarney Lakeside Golf Club to lead the small 18-player field in the two-day Manitoba Junior Rural Championship.

Killarney's Conner Macaulay is two shots back, while Eagle Landing's Wade Wetelainen is three strokes off the pace.


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