Champion of Champions advance and draw
The Walt McCollum Niagara District Champions of Champions golf tournament is returning to its roots.
This Saturday’s tournament, a 12:30 p.m. shotgun format at Rockway Vineyards, features the club champions from Niagara golf courses in the junior boys, junior girls, men’s, women’s, senior men’s and senior women’s divisions.
After more than two decades of holding qualifiers for the final day and reducing the size of the field, the organizing committee has gone back to the old way of inviting all the club champions to compete in a one-day event.
The decision to go back to the original format was made for a number of reasons, organizing committee member Jim Price said.
“No. 1 is it is getting very hard to get clubs to host it because it was taking up two days because you would have one day for the qualifier and one day for the championship,” he said.
The qualifiers were originally added to the tournament format because of the increase in the number of golf courses in Niagara that wanted their champions to play in the event.
“It just got too large,” Price said.
The organizing committee started looking at its overall numbers for the past three years and discovered it was hosting between 110 and 115 golfers.
“We thought that should work for a shotgun,” he said. “On top of that, the GAO [Golf Ontario) has what they call a Champions of Champions also and they do it as a shotgun.
“If they can do it in foursomes rather than threesomes, then why can’t we do it?”
The plan is to try the old format this year and see what happens.
“We like it and a lot of the golf clubs are liking it,” Price said. “It has been a really good response from them and that sounds good.”
There are 108 golfers signed up to play in the tournament.
The qualifiers helped organizers determine the top groupings for the final day, but the committee has a good handle on who are the players to beat in each category.
“We do, but you get crossed up on that just as easy as not,” Price said. “After some preliminary work, Wayne (committee member Redshaw) and I sat down for two and a half hours and tried to figure out who are the top four and who are the top eight?”
Once those golfers were identified, they were placed in the last groups to finish in each category. That process is easier said than done in some categories. Price feels the junior girls and senior men’s divisions are wide open.
“The junior girls division this year is probably the closest we’ve ever had,” he said. “There are eight and it could probably be any one of them.
“For senior men, there’s probably eight or nine who could win that one. Those guys have been around forever and are good golfers.”
Price feels Rockway is a good choice to host the event. It’s an excellent course and has the amenities to pull off the event in both good and inclement weather.
“It’s a good setup for golfers and it has a lot of things going for it.”
Price is hopeful the site for next year’s tournament will be confirmed later this fall.
“It’s a course that has a proven record, we have been there before and it’s also celebrating an anniversary next year.”
Rockway Vineyards’ Kham Long is the only 2017 champion (men’s) returning to defend his title. Port Colborne’s Sandra Billyard is back but the 2017 senior ladies champion is competing in the ladies division this time around.
Following is the draw for this year’s tournament:
1A (men’s): Matt Graham, Port Colborne; Kham Vong, Rockway; Robbie Ellis, St. Catharines; Kyle Stephenson, Twenty Valley.
2A (junior boys): Anthony Sartor, Brock; Wyatt Seburn, Long Beach; Brendan Ruch, Whiskey Run.
2B (junior boys): Jackson Strecker, Twenty Valley; Alex McGee, Sawmill; Brenden Morin, Cardinal Lakes; Andy Berti, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
3A (junior boys): Noah Musicka, Beechwood; Ty Werynski, Bridgewater; Blake Pinque, Links of Niagara; Philippe Bedard, Rockway.
4A (junior boys): Nolan Piazza, Grand Niagara; Ben MacLean, Lookout Point; C.J. Henry, St. Catharines; Andrew Scott, Port Colborne.
5A (senior ladies): Teddy Wageneer, Brock; Lynn Gulla, Freedom Oaks; Chrissy Borgatta, Long Beach; Karen Rush, Dunnville
5B (senior ladies): Rose Dilonardo, Beechwood; Brenda Hale, Cardinal Lakes; Catherine Rueinger, Pen Lakes; Carol Irwin, Rolling Meadows
6A (senior ladies): Rita Lee, Sawmill; Barb Brown, Port Colborne; Yolanda Henry, Niagara-on-the-Lake; Kathy Morningstar, Whisky Run.
6B (senior ladies): Cindy Wegg, Rockway;; Theresa Holmes, ICC;; Pearl Hevenor, St. Catharines, Sue Labatte, Niagara Falls.
7A (senior ladies): Sharon Greenwood, Lookout Point; Karen Debenedet, Links of Niagara; ; Karen Vamplew, Twenty Valley; Robin Wilson, Bridgewater
8A (ladies): Bonnie Jefferson, Brock; Sarah Ann Smurlick, Freedom Oaks; Carrie Pennimpede, Niagara Falls.
8B (ladies): Wendy Ozog, Rolling Meadows; Michelle Fraser, Whisky Run Jane Hanigan, Links of Niagara.
9A (ladies): Louise Robitaille, Niagara-on-the-Lake; Shari Morin, Cardinal Lakes; Courtney White, Beechwood
10A (ladies): Betty Divok, Rockway Vineyards; Ruth McBride, Bridgewater; Sandra Billyard, Port Colborne.
10B (ladies): Nancy Bridgeman, Pen Lakes; Shelly Bauer, Sawmill; Shellee Niznik, Twenty Valley; Amanda Gardiner, Lookout Point
11A (junior girls): Xzarah Ali-Bission, Brock; Mikaylg Lacey, Port Colborne; Mya Mackey, Sawmill.
12A (junior girls): Peyton Bennett, Twenty Valley; Kayla Burke, Lookout Point.
12B (junior girls): Sasha Baker, Dunnville; Susan Leone, Beechwood; Sara Racic, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
13A (senior men): Terry Breen, Brock; Brian Allen, Freedom Oaks; Brian Harbison, Long Beach; Gill Bellefleur, Niagara Falls.
13B (senior men): Roger Arsenault, Whisky Run; Rick Cooke, Water Park; John Howarth, Dunnville; Jim Blanshard, ICC.
14A (senior men): Dave MacDonald, Bridgewater; Andy Labelle, Links of Niagara; Lawrance Huchinson, Sawmill; Jim Brown, Rolling Meadows
14B (senior men): Pat Berti, Beechwood ; Mark Rankie, Grand Niagara; Tim McMacken, Niagara-on-the-Lake; John Caughill, Pen Lakes.
15A (senior men): Ian Gibson, Port Colborne; Tim Dundas, Rockway Vineyards; Bernie Bodogh, St. Catharines; Jon Odegaard, Queenston.
16A (senior men): Jim Langill, Lookout Point; Jim Briggs, Cardinal Lakes; Tony Ravenda, Riverview; Mark Hunemund, Twenty Valley.
16B (men): Wes Lowery, Queenston; Mike Miglepie, Water Park; Troy Fraser, Whisky Run; Tayler Tyminski, Lookout Point.
17A (men): Mark Fleguel, Freedom Oaks; Vince D’Amico, Pen Lakes; Logan Lammerant, Cardinal Lakes; Maric Brooks, ICC.
17B (men): Owen Sartor, Brock; Jay Hart, Dunnville; Harry Jenson, Niagara Falls; Beechwood.
18A (men): Mike Bedard, Grand Niagara; Dylan Patus, Long Beach; Nolan VonKalkreuth, Bridgewater; Bryan Bieksa, Sawmill
18B (men): Ken Millen, Riverview; Brad Hill, Links of Niagara; Jim Panetta, Niagara-on-the-Lake; Tony Nocowski, Rolling Meadows.