Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No priest necessary for this exorcism

North shows demons who's boss in Selkirk

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SELKIRK -- For five-time provincial player of the year Dean North, this task looked as easy as taking off a head-cover.

All he had to do was close the deal with a six-shot lead heading into the final 18 holes of the Titleist-Footjoy Manitoba PGA Championship.

In the end, it appeared as easy as posing with the $3,000 winner's cheque but -- this is golf, remember -- it didn't happen without a few anxious moments.

At his home course, the Selkirk Golf and Country Club head pro ran away from the field by eight shots after Wednesday's final-round 72, giving him a three-day total of three-under 210.

Mid-round, however, the margin was just three and happy thoughts were not in the neighbourhood.

"I got off to not a very good start," North said about bogeys at Nos. 3, 6 and 8, the latter a "lazy" three-putt from three feet. "At that point, those little demons start getting near your brain.

"I wondered what I was going to do. Was I losing it? I birdied nine, a nice one, but three-putted 10 and bogeyed 11 and those little demons would just not leave me alone."

Hecla's Scott Parker, who was among the three players starting the day six back, was applying some pressure and had closed the gap to three shots by the 13th, but North took command, finally, from there.

He hit it close to the flag there and at the 15th for birdies, then rolled in another one at the par-3 16th to end all doubt.

"My whole goal on the day was to beat the guys I was playing with straight-up, never mind the six-stroke lead," he said. "Scott had me by three at one point and we're on 13 and those little demons were just on me until I pitched a real nice one in there."

"A little more heat, who knows what those demons would have done?"

It was Transcona's Dave McMillan who wound up second at 218 after a 74, while Parker shared third with Glendale assistant Andrew Steep, both 75 and both 219.

Pine Ridge's Shane Dick, 75 Wednesday, was fifth at 221.

"I had 83 yards for my second shot at 10 and hit it fat into the bunker, then missed a four-foot par putt," Parker said. "I had four wedges on the back nine that I never hit the green with.

"I had no expectations. But after he three-putted eight, I was only three back and thinking about it. But it wasn't meant to be and I didn't play well enough all week to put pressure on him. As much as I play, I played fine and he's certainly the deserving winner."

North had won just one previous PGA Championship (2005) and had been runner-up in the last three, leaving him to wonder what might be going on during the final round.

"This does weigh on my brain," he said. "It's where those demons come from -- why is it that I've only won this one once? I feel like I should have three or four. And when I started struggling today, I was thinking, 'Not another one of these fiascos,' but then I calmed myself down."

Larters' Peter Ewert captured the senior division with a 36-hole score of 143. His 72 on Wednesday left little doubt as to the winner.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2009 D4

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