PONOKA — While the front-runners were falling like dominoes, Dave Schultz was a vision of consistency, wielding his putter like a wand.
The Calgary Country Hills Golf Club member fired a closing-round 68 Thursday at Wolf Creek to capture the 2012 Alberta Men’s Mid-Amateur title by a three-stroke margin over runner-up Tom McKinlay of Lacombe.
Schultz started the day in eighth place, five shots behind co-leaders Frank Van Dornick of Camrose and Alan Stewart of Grande Prairie. But Van Dornick and the likes of fellow contenders Tom Skinner and Grant Lee of the Red Deer Golf and Country Club struggled big-time while Schultz was steady as she goes.
“It was a good round,” said Schultz, who also won the Mid-Amateur in 2004 and has made three provincial Mid-Am teams. “I finally made a few putts. I hit it good all week but hadn’t really made anything.”
Schultz, who carded earlier scores of 72-76, finished with a 54-hole total of 3-over 216. McKinlay came in with a final-round 70 and with earlier rounds of 73-76, finished at 219.
Brian Laubman of Edmonton Highlands turned in a 73 Thursday and finished tied for third with Stewart at 220. Stewart slumped to a final-round 77.
Van Dornick, meanwhile, struggled to a 10-over 81 and finished ninth with a 224 total.
Skinner and Lee tied for sixth with final-round scores of 77 and 223 totals. Both Red Deer golfers were a mere three strokes off the lead heading into the final round, as was Dale Goehring of Calgary Glencoe, who slipped all the way down to a tie for 14th after shooting an 81 on the 6,600-yard links/south nine layout.
“I had five three-putts on the first nine holes and shot a 40,” groaned Skinner. “Then I never made anything on the back and bogeyed the last hole.”
Schultz, meanwhile, was thriving, with one birdie and one bogey on the front and then birdies on 10, 11 and 17 on the back.
“I played pretty solid on the front and then hit some poor tee shots on the back and got away with them,” he said. “I was 3-under on the back and a couple of the pars were probably even better than the birdies, and that kept me going.”
Schultz suspected some of the front-runners would slip somewhat, but not the extent to which it occurred.
“I couldn’t believe how far some of these guys fell. I knew some would but didn’t expect almost everyone to,” he said. “But you just put your head down and play as hard as you can and see what happens.”
“Dave’s a grinder,” said Skinner, who wasn’t making any excuses for his collapse.
“The wind wasn’t a factor today. (The opportunity) was pretty much right there in front us the whole day,” he said. “It was a perfect day to play golf, I just couldn’t get the speed of the greens.
“But we had fun. With our group, Alan (Stewart) is 58, I’m 59 and Frank is 60, so we were the old guys out there in the second-last group.”
Central Alberta results:
Tom McKinlay, Lacombe, second (73-76-70—219); Grant Lee, Red Deer Golf and Country Club (RDG&CC), tied for sixth (69-77-77—223); Tom Skinner, RDG&CC, tied for sixth (75-71-77—223); Tim Boston, Wolf Creek, tied for 19th (77-74-77—228); Keith Newton, Olds, tied for 23rd (74-79-76—229); Eric Brodie, RDG&CC, tied for 27th (79-78-74—231); Merv Dusyk, RDG&CC, tied for 53rd (80-81-78—239); Ron Harder, innisfail, tied for 53rd (76-83-80—239); Les Swelin, Sundre, tied for 59th (78-78-84—240); Rob Kuntz, Lacombe, tied for 64th (81-78-82—241).