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College players share amateur golf crown

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DEPTH of resumés provided two winners for the Golf Manitoba amateur player of the year award.

College players Aaron Cockerill of Teulon and Josh Wytinck of Pine Ridge shared the 2013 honour handed out Monday night, the second time in the 39-year history of the award that co-winners were chosen.

Both are second-time winners. Cockerill was named player of the year in 2010 and Wytinck was selected last year.

Cockerill, a junior this fall at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, captured his second straight Manitoba match-play title in 2013 and was the runner-up at the Nott Autocorp Manitoba Men's Amateur for the second year in a row.

Later in the summer, he blazed around his home course over two days to win the rural amateur by 17 strokes.

"For the summer, the match play was the bigger win; it was very cool to go back to back in that," Cockerill said via phone on Monday night. "At the am, well, it's the one I wanted the most. I haven't had it, but I've been close. It was the same in junior. I came second, then third and then got it (the Manitoba junior) the third time."

This fall, Cockerill, a Stony Mountain native, has posted a 72.3 scoring average through three NCAA tournaments in Washington state, Boise, Idaho and the Wolfpack Invitational in North Carolina. He's been in the top 20 individually in each event and his stroke average is more than a shot better than last fall's.

"We're getting into some better events now," said Cockerill, who's off to Texas for a tournament later this week.

Both Cockerill and Wytinck made the cut at the summer's Canadian Amateur, placing tied-47th and tied-41st, respectively.

Wytinck's summer accomplishments didn't have quite the sparkle, but his fall play was nothing short of elite.

The native of Glenboro lost in the quarter-finals in the match play, finished fourth to St. Charles' Derek East at the amateur and fourth in an elite amateur event at the National Golf Club near Toronto.

Playing this fall for the University of Manitoba Bisons, he captured individual tournament honours at the Concordia Invitational at Moorhead, Minn., tied for first with teammate Charlie Boyechko at the Augsburg Fall Invitational in Ham Lake, Minn., and won the St. John's Fall Invitational at Sauk Centre, Minn.

In six events in the U.S., he was never worse than fifth as the Bisons won three team tournaments. Wytinck, in his time with the Bisons golf team, has won five events in the U.S. and been part of 12 team victories.

"I was happy to do it in my last year, to help the team win three times," Wytinck said at Monday night's awards dinner at Rossmere. "That was the main goal for the fall season.

"Maybe having a little bit of pressure off, that I wasn't just playing for myself, but playing for the team -- the way I feel about it, sometimes it takes pressure off."

His fall eligibility is used up but Wytinck plans to play for the U of M at the Canadian University and College Championship next spring at Southwood.

"The thing I'm most proud of was having the 71.5 scoring average," he said of his play this fall for the Bisons. "In the conditions, pretty tough.

"I was pretty proud of myself for that and proud of the team, probably the proudest I've been as a golfer, maybe tied with (winning) the Amateur last year."

East and Manitoba senior champ Garth Collings were the other finalists for the award.

Golf Manitoba also handed out its Distinguished Service award again in 2013 for the seventh time, this one to Breezy Bend's Bob Forcand, a volunteer in many facets of golf since the 1970s.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 22, 2013 C5

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