Fleming goes wire-to-wire to win Alberta Open
Riley Fleming battled wind, rain and then a touch of stomach flu en route to winning his second consecutive Alberta Open championship at Wolf Creek Golf Resort.
Fleming, from Collicutt Siding Golf Club at Crossfield, led the three-day tournament wire-to-wire and capped it all off with a 2-under round of 69 Thursday.
With a 54-hole total of 9-under 204, he won by a comfortable six strokes over fellow professional Scott Stiles of Calgary Bearspaw, who also shot a final-round 69.
Public course player Brett Hogan finished third with a 217 total (75-70-72) and was the low amateur, while amateur Tyler Saunders of Edmonton Glendale (71-75-72—218) and pro Todd Halpen of the RCGA Golf Learning Centre (76-75-68—219) rounded out the top five.
After turning in a sparkling score of 65 during a rain-soaked second round — which followed a 70 during a windy opening round — Fleming felt ill Wednesday night and woke up Thursday morning with a troubled stomach.
“When I got here this morning it was pretty tough. I hadn’t eaten anything,” he said. “I took some Pepto-Bismol and felt better when I teed off, plus the adrenalin kicked in.
“Thankfully I played well enough yesterday to give myself some room. That took a bit of the stress off and I could focus on just getting though the day and finishing the tournament.”
Finishing was never an issue and in fact Fleming continued with his fine play under sunny skies.
The six-stroke victory was an accurate indication of the manner in which he easily handled the Wolf Creek layout.
“I played really well and was hitting the driver really, really well,” he said. “I only missed a couple of fairways all week, which made it a lot easier. I was always in position to go at the pins. That was definitely the difference.
“I’ve played here quite a few times before and won a few events here. It sets up well.
“If you hit it long you can be aggressive and the greens are really, really pure. It was a good setup for me.”
Fleming was never in danger of relinquishing his lead Thursday and pretty much sealed the deal with an eagle on the par-5 11th, smacking a 4-iron to within six feet and draining the putt.
“That was nice. Any time you can make an eagle on this course it’s good,” he said.
The Alberta Open was Fleming’s fifth pro tournament of the year, following three appearances on the PGA Tour Canada — during which he failed to make a cut — and an eGolf Tour event at Palm Springs, Calif., where he finished 13th.
“This win feels good. It’s nice to defend any title and it’s pretty cool to defend this one,” said Fleming.
“It definitely gives me confidence. I want to take this one to the bigger tour, the PGA Tour Canada. Hopefully this gets me going in the right direction.”
Alberta Springs pro Troy Butterfield was the low Central Alberta competitor, shooting 79 Thursday for a 231 total that included earlier scores of 77-75. He tied for 24th.
Matt Codd of the Red Deer Golf and Country Club, an amateur, was one stroke back of Butterfield after carding a final-round 74 — which followed scores of 82-76 — and tied for 29th.
Former Red Deer golfer Zak Griffiths, a pro who plays out of the E-Club of Reno, Nev., turned in rounds of 78-77-78 and finished at 20-over 233 and in a tie for 31st, while amateur Jared Nicolls of Wolf Creek tied for 33rd with a 234 total (78-77-79).
Tim Boston of Wolf Creek finished 43rd at 242 (82-76-84), with fellow amateurs Colby Albert of Sylvan Lake (80-82-81—243) and Blair Neal of Wolf Creek (79-83-86—248) placing 44th and 46th.