After battling back and forth all day, Peacock’s Leighton Bearchell had just pulled in front of Coronach’s Riley Grona before they teed off the 17th hole at the South Central district golf championships.
Aiming to protect his lead, Bearchell made the safe decision and laid up. Knowing he needed to make something happen, Grona broke out his driver and stuck his approach a foot and a half from the pin. Grona eagled the 263-yard par-4 17th at the Hillcrest Golf Club while Bearchell parred the hole to give Grona an one-shot lead.
“Leighton laid up, so I thought I better go for it,” said Grona. “I hit driver and it landed in the middle of the green and then rolled to about a foot-and-half, so I was able to tap in for eagle.
“It was a short hole, so I didn’t see any point in laying up. Especially since I was down anyway. I don’t know if I could do it again. It was a pretty lucky shot.”
The drama wasn’t done though. Grona lipped out his putt to win on 18 and then Bearchell lipped out his birdie attempt to tie and force a playoff.
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“I laid up and hoped for the best,” said Bearchell, who conceded that when your opponent eagles 17 and you lip out on 18 to tie, it clearly wasn’t meant to be.
Grona finished with a 73 and Bearchell was right behind him at 74. Peacock’s Brenn Roberge shot an 80 to finish third.
Coronach’s Shania Noll won the girls’ event with a 112, while Coronach’s Sydney Elder was second at 117. Central Butte’s Sarah Wist was third at 119.
Noll wasn’t very pleased with her round despite netting the regional title.
“In Coronach at sections I shot a 91,” said the Grade 10 student. “I had a bad slice today.”
Noll and the Coronach girls team won the provincial team title a year ago and will get a chance to repeat this year.
Grona and Bearchell will get to duel again at provincials, but it’s unlikely that they will be able to top Friday’s drama.
Because they were in the same group, Grona and Bearchell knew exactly what the other was doing which added to the drama of the day as they headed towards the club house.
“It made it more challenging knowing what I had to do,” said Bearchell who will make his third straight trip to provincials.
“It was fun. I actually like golfing like that. It gets you nervous. I was pretty nervous on that one-and-a-half footer I had for eagle,” said Grona who said he probably would have gone for the green on his approach even if he didn’t know he needed to.
“I probably would have. I’m not sure I would have had the same outcome though,” he said.
Grona felt he put together a decent round, though he knows he could have scored better.
“My putting was pretty weak,” said Grona who is in Grade 10. “I played good, it was just the putting that let me down. I missed a couple of short birdies, but other than that I played pretty solid.”
It’s been a good summer for Grona who was invited to the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour nationals in Orlando, Fla., though he isn’t sure whether he will be able to attend.
Now the three medalists and the winning teams will all advance to the SHSAA provincials in Kenosee next weekend.
Grona finished in the top-10 at provincials a year ago and wasn’t very happy with his performance. If he shoots well in Kenosee, he’s hoping to be in contention this time around.
Noll, Elder and Keirstin Bartlett from Coronach won the girls team title with a 221 finishing ahead of Central Butte.
Peacock’s team of Bearchell, Roberge, Mike Flegel and Clark Flegel won the boys side with a score of 228, finishing 12 shots ahead of Coronach.
Three of the four members of the boys have their score count towards the team title and two of the three or four members of a girls team have their score count towards the team total.
Matthew Gourlie can be reached at 691-1257.