Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Vintage Hardy rules at Amateur

Four-time champion stages final-round rally, roars past fading Hastmann

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SELKIRK -- It's not easy, of course. But Jill Hardy makes it look that way.

The 28-year-old Winnipeg pharmacist is a four-time Manitoba amateur women's golf champion this morning precisely because of her uncanny ability to make the most frustrating of sports look simple.

Take her final round at Selkirk Golf and Country Club Friday afternoon as an example. In a jam on the par-4 ninth, she simply chipped within six inches of the cup and then tapped in to save par.

Two holes later, a wedge out of the sand rolled within three feet of the hole to set up another par.

And then on the par-5 15th, Hardy drained a 20-footer to make birdie en route to a final round 77 and a four-stroke victory that earned her what is her fourth Manitoba women's title since 2001 and second in as many years.

It was a vintage performance by Hardy who doesn't do anything spectacularly but does everything well -- chipping, sand work, putting and driving. "Every part of her game is strong," said Dave Comaskey, executive director of Golf Manitoba. "She does everything well."

But if it looks easy, Hardy says it only seems that way. She says she temporarily quit as a pharmacist with CancerCare Manitoba so that she could focus full time this summer on a busy golf schedule that will see her go directly from Selkirk to North Carolina's legendary Pinehurst next week where Hardy says she will be the only Canadian woman playing in the North and South Women's Championship, a storied tournament that dates back to 1903.

Hardy said her hard work this summer appears to be paying off at exactly the right time.

"It's really sweet," she said after her final round. "I've been working really hard on my game this summer and it hasn't come around until this week."

With her mother playing the role of caddy and her father playing the role of gallery, Hardy entered the final day trailing fellow Winnipegger and 2001 Manitoba junior women's champion Tanis Hastmann by one shot.

Hastmann's lead doubled on the very first hole when Hardy bogeyed, but then the defending champion took over and Hastmann came apart.

While Hardy was busy holing five straight pars on the front nine, Hastmann had her hopes for her first Manitoba women's title crash to earth with double bogeys on the third, sixth and ninth holes and bogeys on Nos. 4, 5 and 7.

Hastmann got it back together on the back nine, but by then it was too late and she had to settle for a final round 82 and second place.

A doctoral student in public health at Kansas State University, Hastmann said she golfs so seldom now she actually had to brush up again on the rules prior to playing this week.

Against that backdrop, she said losing to Hardy felt more like a victory. "Jill's always a great competitor," Hastmann said. "I think it's great she won. If I didn't win, I'm glad she did."

Meanwhile, Tammy Gibson of St. Boniface Golf and Country Club -- the 1998 Manitoba amateur champion -- added a 2009 Manitoba senior women's title to her collection.

Playing in both the women's and senior women's competitions, Gibson shot a final round 78 to finish at 22-over and captured the senior title and finish third overall in the women's field.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 11, 2009 D9

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