Red Deer golfer Mitch Evanecz wins Alberta Amateur championship

Mitch Evanecz is the Alberta Sun Life Financial Men’s Amateur golf champion.

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CALGARY — Mitch Evanecz wasn’t about to live in the past when it came to the final round of the 2009 Alberta Sun Life Financial Men’s Amateur golf championship.

A year ago the 23-year-old from Red Deer led the Amateur by two strokes heading into the final day, before a 78 left him in fourth.

On Friday Evanecz opened the day at 9:40 a.m. holding a three-stroke lead. By the time the day was over he was seven strokes ahead and clutching his first Alberta championship.

He came in with his second straight four-under par 67 to finish the 72-hole event at the Bearspaw Country Club at 275. Tom McKinlay Jr. of Lacombe shot a 69 and slid into second place at 282.

“I thought a lot of (last year) this morning, but I just wanted to get off to a good start and focus on the round and just get the job done” he said several hours after the conclusion of the four-day tournament.

Evanecz was able to gain all the confidence he needed on the second hole, sinking a six-foot par putt.

“That was huge and it go me going,” he said.

He then birdied the fifth an sixth and never looked back. The round was close to letter perfect as he also birdied nine and 13 to go with 14 pars.

“I felt I was playing like I can,” he said. “I had a good practice round prior to the tournament and felt confident coming in. I knew I just had to stay focused all four days.”

Evanecz opened the tournament with a one-under 71, which left him tied for fifth, then an even par 71 pushed him into third. Then came the back-to-back 67s.

Evanecz is coming off a solid winter season which saw him anchor the University of Victoria golf team during his final season with the team.

He also played in the Canadian Professional Golf Association’s Telus Open in Edmonton as an amateur.

Although he missed the cut in Edmonton by one stroke he couldn’t say enough good things about the experience.

“It’s the first time I played a tournament of that calibre and you get a chance to see how the pros play, and watch how they hit the ball, it’s a tremendous experience,” he said. “I think that helped me this week.”

It also gave him a taste of what he hopes will be his job down the road.

“I’m going to stay amateur next summer, then possibly look at turning pro in the fall,” he explained.

Evanecz will lead the Alberta Willingdon Cup team into the Canadian championships, Aug. 9-13 in Blainville, Que. He will be making his third straight appearance on the Alberta team, which is the four-time defending champions.

“It’s great to make the Alberta team, especially as we try to strive for five,” he said. “And we have a chance, We have a good group going again.”

McKinlay and Scott Stiles of the Bearspaw Club are also returning to the Alberta team with Wilson Bateman of Blackhawk in Spruce Grove the only new face.

McKinlay and Bateman were tied for fifth heading into the final round, two strokes behind a trio tied for second.

But McKinlay finished at two-under and Bateman grabbed third place with a one-under 70 for a 283 total.

Stiles, who also shot a 67, and Dan Cote of the Cottonwood Club in DeWinton, who shot 73, tied for fourth. Stiles won on the first extra hole.

Carson Kallis of Red Deer had a final round 71 and tied for 11th at 287 with Frank Van Dornick of Camrose, who came in with a 69.

Kyle Morrison of Red Deer, also had a solid 71, and finished 16th at 289.

• Evanecz will be busy in the next week as he leaves today for the Pacific Coast Amateur in Tucson, Ariz., and will return in time for the Central Alberta Amateur, Aug. 1-3 at the Red Deer Golf and Country Club.

drode@bprda.wpengine.com

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