Encore performance

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

Brad Kirton would like nothing more than to go back-to-back.

Thanks to a tidy, 3-under 67 at Rossmere yesterday, the recently-crowned Manitoba Men's Amateur champion is in perfect position to capture the 2007 Manitoba Men's Mid-Amateur Championship this afternoon.

Kirton, who plays out of Pine Ridge, stands at 7-under 203 after 54 holes and holds a five-stroke edge over Brad DePape of Breezy Bend going into the fourth and final round.

"I'd love to go to my first Canadian mid-am with a guy I played junior golf with for years," said Kirton, who turned 25 in March. "There's been a lot of talk, both good and bad about lowering the age (from 40 to 25). I can't worry about that. I'm playing within the rules.

"We're going to have some fun (today). For four hours, I'm going to try to beat the golf course's brains out. That's who I'm playing against."

SHOT IN THE ARM

Kirton said winning the amateur gave him a shot in the arm.

"The thing that gave me the confidence was my putting," said Kirton, who has been working hard with Pine Ridge head pro Gord Workum. "I putted so well last week. This week, I knew that if could keep rolling it, they would go in. The greens here are similar to Bel Acres and Morden (Minnewasta). You know you can make putts when you have to."

DePape made birdie on the first three holes of the round and fired a 4-under 66 yesterday for the low score of the day amid blustery and humid conditions.

"I made six birdies on the front nine and (Tuesday) I didn't even make a birdie, so it was nice to come back," said DePape, who will turn 26 in October. "The putter was really good. I found the wind a little swirly, so it was tough to get at some of the flags. I'm really, really happy with how I played."

DePape said playing in a group with Kirton helped him elevate his game.

"Absolutely," said DePape. "It was just a blast. There's no nerves at this point. You just go out and play the game really. There were fist-taps all day and we were feeding off each other. We were both rolling the ball really well. Brad is a buddy of mine and anytime I get to play with him, I'm ecstatic."

Well, he'll playing with him again today in the final group of the day, along with Garth Collings of Breezy Bend, who shot even-par 70 and sits 11 shots of the pace.

After leaving the scoring tent, Collings expressed some frustration.

"I'm hitting the ball okay, but it's hard to beat the swinging log and the clown's nose," said Collings. "There are some pretty bad pins out there. I know it's the same for everybody but it's hot and it's enough of a grind as it is (without that)."

Mike Walker of St. Boniface sits fourth at 7-over 217, while Rob Oliphant of Rossmere is fifth at 218.

The shot of the day was made by Ryan Bonni of Rossmere, who holed his approach shot from 140 yards with a pitching wedge for an eagle two on the 18th hole.

"That will make dinner taste a little better," said Bonni, who sits in sixth spot at 10-over 220.

Golf Manitoba executive director Dave Comaskey heard a number of complaints from players about a nasty pin placement on No. 9 that led to at least a handful of four putts.

"It's not difficult, it's unreasonable," Shawn Baker of Southwood told Comaskey.


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