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Old guy hanging around

Collings shares lead at Manitoba Amateur

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The simple odds say there's a good chance a new name will be going on the Manitoba Free Press Trophy at today's conclusion of the Nott Autocorp Manitoba Amateur.

And a youthful one.

Of course, that's before you consider the characters who will be involved in the final act of this week's action.

The plot is straightforward: Southwood's Charlie Boyechko and Breezy Bend's Garth Collings share the 54-hole lead at two-under-par 214, and three others -- Aaron Cockerill of Teulon, Josh Wytinck of Glenboro and Minnesotan Thomas Strandemo, who lives in Fargo -- are all two shots back at even par.

Of those five, 54-year-old Collings has his name on the trophy three times and he's already a member of the Manitoba Golf Hall of Fame. None of the others can lay such a claim, and the oldest of them is 20 (Cockerill and Wytinck). Collings, in fact, is the only player older than 30 in the top 10.

The only numbers that will count today, however, will be on the scorecards.

On that account, 19-year-old Boyechko, a member of the University of Manitoba golf team, was the most impressive Wednesday.

He blazed out quickly -- five-under after his 20-foot eagle putt fell on the par-5 sixth -- and he shot five-under 67 to pull into a share of the lead.

"I struggled (with the putter) on the first two days, for sure," Boyechko said of his 72-75 start. "But I really found something on the greens today... Everything seemed to go in."

He knew that matching the best single-round score of the 2012 tournament so far would send him up the leaderboard, and now he'll be in today's final group with Collings and Cockerill, the 2010 Manitoba Junior champ.

"I used to watch leaderboards a lot, but I've had a bunch of advice from a lot of different people to tell me that it's a 72-hole tournament, that you've just got to play the 72 holes," Boyechko said. "It doesn't matter if you shoot three-over; you can easily get it back another day, like I did today."

Collings, after his 72 on Wednesday, is the only player in the field not to have an over-par round this week.

His scores appear consistent, 71-71-72, but he's had some wild swings during the three days, including Wednesday again.

"Up and down all day," Collings said. "Made a birdie, then a bogey. Then again. Got up and down a couple of times when I shouldn't have."

It's almost a daily question for him now, how he sees playing with rivals so much younger.

"They hit it so far it's stupid," he laughed. "They're hitting three-woods with my driver. But I had a good compliment today: 'You're always in play.' That's a big thing, to keep it in the fairways. It's OK to hit it a mile, but if you're not in the fairway, who cares?"

Among the others eyeing the trophy, two former champs have an uphill climb today. Peter More of Breezy Bend is six back after a 73 in the third round, and defending champ Jesse Skelton is eight back in a tie for ninth after shooting 76.

Among the trio closest to the leaders, all just two back, Cockerill had the best Wednesday, shooting 69 after seven birdies and an eagle. He started the day six behind and got his wish.

"I was just hoping to move up today," Cockerill said. "Maybe get back to even par, and then we'll see what the leaders do. Maybe they'll come back to me a little."

Wytinck, 19, was last year's runner-up to Skelton. "I was four-under after six today, so I'm not real happy with that finish," Wytinck said.

The Pine Ridge staffer will be hoping for one improvement today -- he's eight-over on the par-3s this week, including four-over in three days at the 16th.

The youngest of the five is Strandemo, 18, who led after the first two days. He shot 40 on the back nine Wednesday to fall out of the lead but still leads the field in par-5 performance, seven-under for the week.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

LEADERBOARD

at Glendale

Charlie Boyechko-2

Garth Collings -2

Aaron Cockerill E

Josh Wytinck E

Thomas Strandemo E

Bryce Barr+2

Peter More+4

Teale Merkeley+4

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2012 C10

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