After heating up the course with a career-best 69 on a blustery opening day at the Glen Bryant Senior Men’s Golf Tournament, Rob Kuharski fell off the pace in the final round Sunday on another wet and windy day at Prince George Golf and Curling Club.
Mike Legg and Will Gilbert put their experience to work as tournament champions the previous two years and chipped away at Kuharski’s two-stroke advantage, but a strong finish from the 64-year-old put him back within striking distance.
Kuharski’s 30-foot birdie putt on 17 pulled him even with Gilbert, the 2018 champ, and that left him one shot back of Legg, the defending champion, who overshot the runway and double-bogeyed the second-last hole.
On 18, Legg and Gilbert both hooked their second shots into the rough and that gave Kuharski a chance to make up for his own wayward drive into the long grass that borders the 507-yard Par 5. Kuharski kept the pressure on when he made par with another long putt, but Legg would not be denied. He tapped in for par to beat Kuharski and Gilbert by one stroke.
Legg was three up on the rest of the field until he mistakenly pulled an eight-iron out of his bag instead of nine-iron for his approach on the Par 4 No. 17. His ball ended up rolling down the back hill of the green and he had to settle for a six on a hole he birdied the previous day.
“I kind of let them back in, if I had just grabbed the right iron, and (Kuharski) made two great putts on 17 and 18,” said Legg. “I kind of thought he was out of it earlier on but I forgot he was under par the first day, so I was focusing more on what Will was doing.
“It wasn’t my best day but overall it was good. It got the job done.”
Legg shot 72-74-146 to repeat his 2019 title win. The 52-year-old’s work commitments as a process operator at Canfor’s Intercontinental Pulp Mill meant he had to miss his first crack at the 50-and-older senior event two years ago. The Aberdeen Glen heavy-hitter missed three weeks on the course in May when he cut his hand for nine stitches in a fall.
“With all the craziness in the world it’s awesome to play tournament golf,” said Legg. “A lot of people don’t realize how different it is from regular golf. You’ve got to go out there and make those three-foot putts where, sometime in a casual round tour friends will give them to you. You have to stay in it and stay focused and stay with it.
“I’m hoping Aberdeen, my home course, will look at it and they can find some way of doing their signature events, the Divorce Open and the Ironman.”
Kuharski is no stranger to the PGGCC’s annual senior tournament. This was his 14th crack at the title but never before has he ended up near the top of the leaderboard. He finished Sunday with a round of 78 for a 147 total.
“It was close, we played in conditions today that were all over the board, but it was a fun ride,” said Kuharski, who moved to the city in 1990 from Vancouver. “It’s a new experience for me and I gave the guys a run for their money. I shot 69 (Saturday) and I’d never broken 70, so it was good in that regard.
“I came up short but I’m happy with the way I shot. I might have come close to winning my flight but never the overall championship. I’ve played quite a bit this year with what’s going on. I’ve been off work so I’ve got a lot a lot of spare time. I’ve probably got 35 or 40 rounds in this year.”
In these pandemic times, Gilbert has also been away from his job at Northland Dodge Chrysler and that’s left him more time to refine his golf game. The 53-year-old’s consistency showed when he opened with a two-over 73 and he capped that with a round of 74 to finish tied for second place with Kuharski. For Gilbert, the difference Sunday came down to his putting game.
“I didn’t make any putts, I three-putted three or times and that cost me,” said Gilbert, who shot a four on Par 5 No. 16 to get back in the hunt. “I should have birdied 18, because (Legg) wasn’t going to birdie after his second shot.
“Rob hung in tough today, after his first-round 69, that was really good for him to shoot like that.”
Gilbert finished three strokes behind Legg in the tournament last year.
“I’m playing way more golf this year - everyone is,” said Gilbert. “It’s hard to get tee times at P.G. and Aberdeen.”
The two-day event drew 102 golfers and served as a test event for the PGGCC. The club’s board of directors will later decide whether it will go ahead with a plan to host the Ladies Simon Fraser and Men’s Simon Fraser Open tournaments in August.