Niagara Falls (ON) - The 2016 Great Lakes Tour season came to an end on Friday October 7th. The Annual Great Lakes TOUR Championship was played on the historic Legends on the Niagara Battlefield Course. The 36 hole Championship would see the top players from the season compete for both the Tour Championship and Order of Merit honours.
The field of 38 players would feature Mike Gligic from Kitchener (ON) who recently finished 10th on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit, Mitch Sutton from London (ON), Brett Cairns from Courtland (ON), Brett Kennedy from Waterloo (ON), Brendan Barrack from Toronto (ON) who lead the Great Lakes Tour National Order of Merit and the ever consistent Brendan Leonard from Cambridge (ON)...
For the first time in Tour Championship history, the event was contested at the par 72 Legends on the Niagara Battlefield Course. The Niagara Parks Commission facility is a World Class layout by renowned architect Doug Carrick and hosted the 2004 BMO Canadian Women's Open. The golf course lies just minutes from downtown Niagara Falls (ON) giving players and families the opportunity to experience everything Niagara Falls has to offer.
For the Championship the course saw a reversal of nines to allow for a dramatic finish. With water bordering the final three holes and a difficult 18th that was playing against the wind, tournament organizers new the Championship would be decided on this finish.
After Round 1 two players were tied atop the leaderboard. Brett Kennedy and Brett Cairns both fired 3 under par 69 with three players Mike Jiggins of St. Catharines (ON), Josh Bamberger of Waterloo (ON) and Mitch Sutton tied at 2 under par. There were a total of 19 players within 5 shots of the lead heading into Round 2 making it anyone's to win.
The second round began at 8am on Friday under clear skies with a wind forecast of gusts up to 25km/h. After the first nine Mike Jiggins fired 1 under par on the front nine to sit alone in the lead as both Brett Cairns and Brett Kennedy faltered to 3 over par on the first nine to drop to even par for the tournament.
Mike Jiggins would extend his lead even further after an eagle on the par 5 first hole. This would get him to 5 under par for the tournament and seemingly in control of the Championship. However, bogies on holes 13, 15, 17 and 18 would sink his chances and leave the door open as he posted a two round total of 141 and an eventual tie for third place.
As the Championship came down to the wire, it looked as though a five man playoff was looming. Mike Jiggins, Josh Bamberger, Brett Kennedy, Mitch Sutton and Brett Cairns all sat on the 18th tee at 2 under par for the tournament. Jiggins failed to get up and down, Bamberger mis-judged the wind and flew the green into the water, and Kennedy 3 putted. All three finished 1 under par.
Mitch Sutton was the first to post 2 under par 140 for the Championship and wathced as Brett Cairns hit a towering approach shot on 18 that stopped 15ft left of the flag leaving a deceivingly slow down hill putt for the win. Cairns would leave the birdie putt 3ft short and after a slight moment of doubt, Cairns calmly made the par putt to force a playoff with Sutton.
The Playoff would begin back on the tricky 18th hole. The eventual winner of the playoff would not only win the Tour Championship worth $3,000 but also become the 2016 Great Lakes Tour Order of Merit Winner.
Both players would hit perfect tee shots leaving them nearly identical approaches to the difficult 18th green. Sutton would hit first. In an attempt to flight his ball under the wind, he came over the top and pulled his second shot in the water left. The advantage went to Cairns whom hit a pure shot 20 feet below the pin, leaving Sutton no option but to pitch in.
Sutton took his drop and proceeded to pitch his fourth shot 15 feet short giving Cairns two putts to win. Cairns missed the first putt and after tapping in for four, he would become the 15th Tour Champion in Great Lakes Tour history.
TOURNAMENT NOTE: Luke Ovenden of Georgetown (ON) played a nine hole stretch during the second round (holes 8 through 16) at 8 under par. This included a Hole in One on the par 3 12th hole.
For Full Field Results from the Great Lakes Tour Championship please visit HERE
For Final Order of Merit Standings please visit HERE
Notable players not in the field were Stephane Dubois, Drew Nesbitt, Robbie Greenwell, Eric Hawerchuk, David Markle and Mark Hoffman. All were travelling due to Q-School commitments. The Great Lakes Tour would like to congratulate Drew Nesbitt on successfully qualifying for European Tour 2nd Stage. Congratulations also to Stephane Dubois and Robbie Greenwell on advancing to 2nd Stage of Web.com Tour Qualifying. Due to his 10th place finish on the MacKenzie Tour, Mike Gligic will advance directly to final stage of Web.com Tour Qualifying thus improving his chance at full status next season.
The Great Lakes Tour will be announcing scheduling and 2017 season plans over the course of the off season. Stay tuned for exciting improvements and continuing relationship with the Circuit Canada Pro Tour.
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