Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Collings sets a high bar for Manitoba's young talent

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Thursday was a good day for amateur golf in Manitoba.

For starters, another youth wave took a serious run at the provincial amateur title, still the most important annual competition here.

The winner, 20-year-old Josh Wytinck of Glenboro, was rewarded for his hard work of the last couple of years. His victory was no surprise, given his runner-up status in 2011 and his success with the University of Manitoba golf team, among numerous resumé lines.

The runners-up in the four-man playoff, the first in the competition's history -- at least from the best records we can access -- revealed some provincial depth of talent.

Charlie Boyechko, Wytinck's U of M golf teammate, and Aaron Cockerill, who's just finished a red-shirt year at the University of Idaho, clearly have game and future.

Sometime down the road, they will have done well to have just a fraction of the record of the other runner-up, 54-year-old Garth Collings of Breezy Bend.

Not long after the Manitoba Amateur was over Thursday, Collings was unclear how many times he's come in second in the Amateur. He doesn't keep track of most such statistics. In this case, he was more focused on the normal regrets of what he might have done to add a fourth Amateur title to his impressive career.

"I honestly thought I had a chance on 18 to make my putt," he said of a 15-footer from the left fringe that would have done the trick. "I thought I hit a pretty good putt and it didn't go in. I hit a pretty good putt on 17 and left it half an inch short."

All of Thursday's drama caused us to go searching the charts to come up with some context.

First, on playoffs. We're only aware of three since the tournament switched to stroke play in 1972. Prior to Thursday, the largest was three players, in 1980, when Craig Dearden won at Rossmere. That year, a 22-year-old Collings won the first flight.

Collings has been in the other two playoffs and lost them both.

Results show he has three victories in the last 25 years since he first won in 1987 -- including setting the record as the oldest-ever winner (at 51) in 2009 -- and nine seconds.

Collings has been in the top four in 20 of those 26 tournaments and outside the top 10 only three times.

Add that to seven Manitoba Mid-Amateur titles (he's only been eligible since turning 40) and what you have is a career that's never likely to be matched.

-- -- --

Head pro Larry Robinson has just finished with his Rona Rascals junior golf academy at Bridges Golf Course, a three-week Saturday golf camp that has introduced another generation of potential players to the game.

Robinson conducted two sessions each Saturday for 85 kids between the ages of six and 11. In his usual accommodating style, he even included a couple of five-year-olds and one four-year-old in the beginner-level camps.

"Everyone in the golf business is worried about future generations of golfers, where are they going to come from and how do we get kids hooked on the game," Robinson said. "And how can they afford it?"

In Bridges' case, a solid corporate citizen has stepped to the plate to help, and that Rona-Bridges team even offers all juniors free golf after 6 p.m. every day at the course.



Manitoba Amateur results:

2012: T2nd (playoff)

2011: 4th

2010: T2

2009: WON

2008: 2nd (playoff)

2007: 3rd

2006: 4th

2005: T7

2004: 2nd

2003: 3rd

2002: T2

2001: 2nd

2000: 2nd

1999: T16

1998: 3rd

1997: 2nd

1996: 5th

1995: 2nd

1994: WON

1993: 6th

1992: n/a

1991: T4

1990: n/a

1989: 2nd

1988: 3rd

1987: WON

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 28, 2012 C7

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