It was only Monday of tournament week, but already Southwood's Adrian Kibsey had figured out the secret to Canadian Amateur championship week at Niakwa and Elmhurst.
Kibsey, the 20-year-old left-hander, had a clear picture of where his three-under-par 68 at Niakwa -- the best tally of the day -- came from in Monday's qualifying round at Niakwa.
"It was very easy playing from the fairway," said Kibsey, who fired six birdies to go with three bogeys. "Once you're off the fairway, that's where trouble and a little panic sets in."
Kibsey earned one of seven spots available for the national amateur, which starts Thursday at Niakwa and Elmhurst.
Five Manitoba golfers gained Canadian Amateur entries through Monday's qualifier, bringing to 19 the players from the home province in this week's field of 243.
Tyler Friesen of Winkler matched Torrie Coghlin of Saskatoon in the qualifier, two shots behind Kibsey at one-under 70.
Willie Mac of Flint, Mich., (71), and Burke Wiebe (72) and Bret Thompson (72) both of Southwood also gained spots, as did Niakwa's Taylor Reilly, who won a six-hole playoff against Selkirk's Mark Starodub for the seventh and final berth available.
Kibsey, who will be entering his senior year (studying finance) at King College in Bristol, Tenn., this fall, successfully Monday-qualified for the Canadian Tour's Players last month.
"I'd say for sure (that helped), just confidence building," Kibsey said. "I'm a feel player so everything's mental. If I've got a good feeling going, then just run with it, and already knowing I could qualify Mondays, I was ready and good to go."
He also said he tried to avoid a survival mode Monday at Niakwa.
"I was trying to win the qualifier, as opposed to just qualifying," he said.
After last month's Players Cup week, where he missed the cut at Pine Ridge, Kibsey had a very ordinary week at the Manitoba Amateur in Portage. He finished tied for 28th and never contended.
"I was a little bit hungover, I'd say, from the Players Cup," he admitted. "Going from Pine Ridge, where it was unbelievable, it was a different game where you're stroking putts and we went to Portage where the greens (weren't as fast).
"I couldn't develop a feel and just couldn't get anything going in the right direction. I just didn't have it that week."
Kibsey sounded enthused about his return to school this fall at Division II King College, where his team played a lot better last season when he wasn't on the injured list.
"My coach (Brian Kamm) there played pro for 15 years, on the PGA and Nationwide Tours, and he's helped me tremendously and it's a completely different mindset," Kibsey said. "I credit a lot of my success to him."
Kibsey's smart play wasn't without a few glitches on Monday. He called them lessons learned after making bogeys on two of Niakwa's more simple holes, Nos. 11 and 17.
He drove into the lip of a fairway bunker at No. 11, then hit an errant escape near a tree and failed to get up and down at the par 5.
At 17, a drive into the left trees also led to trouble and a bogey.
Those were more than offset by his six birdies.