Personal loss inspires golfer to victory

The PGA of Alberta championship proved to be a little ray of sunshine for what has been a tough few days for Chris Toth.

Chris Toth of the Riverside Golf Club tees off on the 10th hole of the second round of the PGA of Alberta at Riverbend Golf and Recreation Area on Tuesday.

The PGA of Alberta championship proved to be a little ray of sunshine for what has been a tough few days for Chris Toth.

Toth lost his mother last Friday, but decided to keep active and play in the two-day championship at River Bend Golf Course prior to leaving for the funeral in Esterhazy, Sask.

“It’s been a stressful week, but it was good,” said the assistant pro at Edmonton Riverside. “We played the Pro-Am Sunday and had a little fun before the two days of the championship. Lucky the weather held off for us. Today there was some rain in the morning, but the course was really, really good. The greens were fantastic, so hats off to the crew. Todd Fiske and his staff ran a tremendous event.”

Toth went into the second day of the 36-hole event in a three-way tie for first with Kevin Broderson of Lacombe and Brett Burgeson of Calgary Country Hills.

But he was four-under over the front nine, which is actually the normal back nine, and played par golf coming in to win by two strokes over Don Graham, who is a retired member of the association.

“To be honest, I played 27 really solid holes then the final nine I just hung on and made pars,” he said. “I just kept thinking about my mom. She was with me and honestly that helped.”

Toth, who also won the title in 2002, used his talent to twice get out of trouble on the back nine. He was in the hazard on the par-four 13th, but “hacked out” onto the green and two-putted for par.

He then hit his drive into the water on the par-five 15th, but put the ball on the green following a drop and once again earned par.

Toth wasn’t struggling prior to the championship, but received a small tip from a younger assistant pro at the Riverside course which changed his game.

“He gave me a little tip, widening my stance, and a small tip can make a world of difference.”

Toth, who has been at the Riverside layout for close to 11 years, pocketed 6,000 of the $43,000 in prize money.

“I’m more happy getting my name on the trophy, but I’m not going to refuse the cheque,” he said with a laugh.

The event went like clockwork, much to the delight of Fiske.

“I’m very proud of the job the staff did from the maintenance to the food and beverage,” he said. “It was one of the best PGA championships they’ve had in a long time.

“It was a lot of work, but the volunteers made the whole thing,” he added.

Fiske made sure the course was set up so “it was fair.”

“Some places try to destroy the pros, but we wanted to make it challenging, but fair,” said Fiske. “We wanted to showcase the guys talents.”

The tournament was well-worth the time and effort,” said Fiske.

“Financially we made about what we normally do on a Monday and Tuesday, then you throw in the PR we got. It was a great opportunity for a lot of guys from across the province to see our course, the mini-links and the water park and hopefully they go home and tell people about it.”

Scott Anderson of Wolf Creek shot a 69 Tuesday for a 137 total and a share of third place with Burgeson and Jamie Kureluk of Cottonwood Golf and Country Club of DeWinton. They each won $2,800.

Red Deer native Mike Hogan of Calgary’s Glencoe Club came in at 138 following a second straight 69 and tied for sixth with three others.

Broderson shot a 74 Tuesday and finished at 140 and won $1,250 while Fiske had a 71 and came in at 143 along with Red Deer native Jason Stanier of the Calgary Inglewood course, who shot a 72.

Jamie Gerlitz of Lacombe had a 73 for a 144 total while Scott Bergdahl of Lakewood had a 72 to go with an opening round 73 and tied at 145 with Ryan Douchette of Sundre’s Cougar Creek, who shot a 70.

Wade Bearchell of Olds finished at 148 following a 71 and Troy Gibb of River Bend and Roy Hide of the Red Deer Golf and Country Club tied at 149. Gibb shot a 74 and Hide a 76.

Shaun Luopa of the RDGCC had a second straight 75 for a 150 while Kevin Snell of Golf Town Red Deer and Jeff Potter of Pheasantback at Stettler came in at 151. Snell shot a 73 and Potter a 78.

Greg Risler of Pheasantback had a 156 following an 80 while David Drake of Pine Hills at Rocky Mountain House shot an 84 for a 160 total. Cody Fiske of River Bend came in at 164 following an 83.

Jacques Plouffe of Edmonton Glendale and a former member of the RDC Kings volleyball squad had a 75 for a 151 total.

drode@bprda.wpengine.com

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