December 18, 2018

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McDonald dominant at Manitoba men's amateur

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Justin McDonald watches his ball after teeing off on the the 17th hole Thursday afternoon at Glendale Golf Club in the Manitoba Men's Amateur final.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Justin McDonald watches his ball after teeing off on the the 17th hole Thursday afternoon at Glendale Golf Club in the Manitoba Men's Amateur final.

From start to finish, Justin McDonald was in the driver’s seat at the Manitoba men’s amateur golf championship.

McDonald led after each of the first two rounds at Quarry Oaks and never looked back during the final two rounds at Glendale, en route to capturing the amateur title for the first time in his career. McDonald didn’t just win, he dominated — finishing eight shots ahead of the field.

McDonald, a 32-year-old accountant, shot rounds of 68-70-73-74 for a four-round total of 3-under 285. The Breezy Bend member was the only golfer to finish the event under par. Fellow Breezy Bender Eric Johnson took the second spot with a line of 69-73-73-78 to finish at 5 over. Niakwa’s Todd Fanning, a five-time amateur champ, finished third with a four-round total of 295.

McDonald has arguably been the most impressive golfer of the summer, as Thursday’s victory was his second tournament win of the season. He took the mid-amateur title at Falcon Lake on July 5. McDonald won that event in dominant fashion as well, finishing with a nine-stroke advantage over second-place finisher Garth Collings.

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From start to finish, Justin McDonald was in the driver’s seat at the Manitoba men’s amateur golf championship.

McDonald led after each of the first two rounds at Quarry Oaks and never looked back during the final two rounds at Glendale, en route to capturing the amateur title for the first time in his career. McDonald didn’t just win, he dominated — finishing eight shots ahead of the field.

McDonald, a 32-year-old accountant, shot rounds of 68-70-73-74 for a four-round total of 3-under 285. The Breezy Bend member was the only golfer to finish the event under par. Fellow Breezy Bender Eric Johnson took the second spot with a line of 69-73-73-78 to finish at 5 over. Niakwa’s Todd Fanning, a five-time amateur champ, finished third with a four-round total of 295.

McDonald has arguably been the most impressive golfer of the summer, as Thursday’s victory was his second tournament win of the season. He took the mid-amateur title at Falcon Lake on July 5. McDonald won that event in dominant fashion as well, finishing with a nine-stroke advantage over second-place finisher Garth Collings.

"It’s pretty good, especially after winning the mid-am," McDonald said of winning the amateur. "It feels even better winning two events in one year. I’m pretty jacked"

Getting out to an early lead with an opening-round score of 68 helped, as it gave McDonald some "extra room" to make some mistakes — not that he made many throughout the week.

"Just keeping the ball in play and keeping it in front of me, basically," McDonald said on how he maintained his strong play all week.

Despite coming off an impressive win at the mid-am, McDonald said he didn’t come into the week expecting another championship — especially since he came very close to not even playing the amateur.

"I actually withdrew from the tournament and I signed back up at the last minute," said McDonald, who prefers to play in the mid-amateur, as it’s for players over the age of 25. "I wasn’t even going to play."

McDonald isn’t your traditional competitive golfer, as his approach to his craft is different than most. You won’t find him at the driving range working on his game — he hasn’t hit a ball at the range all year — and you won’t see him hitting balls before teeing off at tournaments, either. He works his 9-5 job at Red River College and golfs four to five times a week at Breezy Bend.

He said he views these tournaments as "just another round of golf," and to handle the pressure of being in the lead, he had a bedtime ritual that helped him.

"If you go have a couple beers the night before, you sleep easier. So that’s what I did," McDonald said with a laugh.

Not only has July been good to McDonald, it’s also been a stellar showcase of the talent at Breezy Bend. At the mid-am, the top three golfers were all products of Breezy Bend — McDonald, Collings, and Johnson. Johnson, a professional poker player when he isn’t golfing, said Breezy Bend is the place to be for competitive golfers.

"We have the best crop of golfers in the province, for sure," said Johnson, a former University of Manitoba Bisons golfer, on the talent at Breezy Bend.

"It helps that we all play together and compete there. We all play on weekend mornings and throw in 20 bucks and play. You’re playing against the best players all the time. Other courses, guys just go out and hit it or play with their friends who aren’t as competitive. Lots of guys want to come and play with us at Breezy because we have such a good group. Any one of our guys could win the amateur on any given week."

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @TaylorAllen31

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