It may not be the PGA Championship and he may not be Rory McIlroy, but Dylan Maine shot an identical score at the 68th Rossland-Trail Men’s Open championship on Sunday to best a field of 100 golfers on the links of the par-72 Birchbank golf course.
As McIlroy sipped from the Wanamaker Cup after destroying the field with a 66 at the sea-side Kiawa Island golf course, Maine repeated as the Men’s Open champion carding a scorching 6-under par 66 of his own in the final round of the 54-hole tournament at Birchbank.
The Spokane golfer once again surpassed last year’s runner up Jason Pitt of Chewelah, and like McIlroy, finished with nary a bogey in the final round.
“It’s always good to go bogey-free and defend, that’s nice,” said Maine. “It came down to the third day again. I parred the first one then birdied the next three so I kind of got going.”
Maine led Pitt by two strokes heading into the 405 yard, par 4, 17th hole. After good drives, each would put his approach shot on the green, yet it was Pitt who stepped up and drained a 25-foot birdie putt to draw within a shot of the lead.
“That was a good putt,” said Pitt. “I’m lucky it hit the hole, I mean that would have been a ways by, but I knew to have a chance to get into a playoff I needed to make that.”
Maine also had a chance at birdie but the ball came up about an inch short on his 12-footer.
Pitt had birdied the 514-yard, par-5 18th on each of the earlier rounds, while Maine had settled for par in both rounds.
“Man I hit my tee shot there a good three days in a row including the practice round. I mean the most I’ve had in was like 180 yards, right in the middle of the fairway every day, and I tried to hit the same shot I’ve been hitting all weekend.”
Pitt cranked the drive, but it tailed right, catching the treeline to leave him without a look at the green, and handing the advantage back to Maine who was waiting and watching.
“I actually decided kind of to watch what he did, and I saw that he pushed his drive right so I decided to go conservative and just hit 3-wood off the tee,” Maine said. “From there I just laid up and tried to go for birdie, didn’t try to hit anything spectacular, but if I hit par then I’d be fine.”
Pitt punched out of the trees, then knifed a 75-yard wedge through the green. He had a about a 50 foot chip for birdie, but another miss sealed the deal, as Maine hit his approach to about 10 feet from the flag and calmly two putted for the par and the victory.
Pitt led the tournament after two rounds shooting a 71 Friday and 69 on Saturday to sit at 4-under, while Maine trailed by three shots with rounds of 74 and 69 to open the tournament, before his sensational Sunday.
“I hadn’t been hitting the ball good coming into the tournament and just kind of slowly improved each day, got a couple good swing thoughts going on the range and then what do you know – a 66 on the final day,” said Maine.
Pitt’s third-round lead didn’t last long as Maine birdied the second and third holes to draw even, and both would birdie four, to sit deadlocked at -4. However Maine birdied seven and Pitt bogeyed nine to give Maine a two shot lead at the turn that he would never relinquish. After carding a 32 on the front nine, Maine would add two more birdies on number 10 and 14 to go 6-under, the low score of the tournament.
Coquitlam’s Kevin Hogg, the 2010 champion, and Todd Tibke of Snohomish, Wash. were even and tied for third going into the final round. Hogg made two bogies and a double bogie on the first eight holes to set him well back, until he reeled off six birdies in the closing 10 holes to finish at 2-under with a final round of 70, good enough for low net in the first flight.
Tibke shot a solid even round par on the front nine but suffered a triple bogie after his ball disappeared in the trees on 17 for a 77 total to finish 5-over.
Overall low net went to Dan Baker with a three day total of 211, first flight low gross to Jason Pitt, second flight low gross was won by Jason Coleman, while Dave Stadler took low net. Gary Secco grabbed third flight low gross honours and Derrick Robinson captured low net. Dale Taylor won the fourth flight low gross and low net went to Jim Anderson.