The Rossland-Trail Birchbank Open crowned a new champion on Sunday, as Brad Jones of Vernon won the 54-hole tournament by eight shots over defending three-time champion Dylan Main.
The 23-year-old Jones shot an efficient round of 2-under 70 on Friday before carding the week’s low round Saturday. Jones eagled the first hole on the par four first then birdied 5,6,7, and 9 to finish the front nine with a sizzling 6-under 30 on his way to a 7-under 65 to finish at 9-under over two days.
Jones, who started playing golf as a youngster in Nelson hitting balls into Kootenay Lake, came third at last year’s championship, and was determined to improve on his result.
With his closest competitors, Maine and Rossland’s Ben Gresley-Jones, seven shots back at 2-under par going into the third and final round, all Jones had to do was stay consistent and out of trouble to clinch his first Birchbank title.
Jones did just that, as he shot a bogey-free round of 2-under 70, including nine straight pars on the second nine to shoot 11-under 205.
Main and Gresley-Jones battled for second spot going into the final round with identical scores of 2-under. However, Main would get to 4-under on the front nine, while Gresley-Jones faltered shooting a 37. But Gresley-Jones would not go quietly. He turned it around on the back nine, birdieing 12 and 15, and watched Main bogey 16 and 17 to draw even heading onto the 18th. Main from Spokane went into the tournament looking to hoist his fourth championship trophy, but his putter let him down and he failed to execute on many birdie opportunities including a two-footer on 16.
Organizers saved the front nine for last on day three, leaving players facing the daunting par-5 ninth hole for the final hole. With an elevated green protected by looming cottonwoods, the ninth leaves a small window to the green, that is almost impossible to reach in two if not for a perfect drive down the middle. Gresley-Jones and Jones hit their drives right making a clear approach shot almost impossible. Main despite sending his drive left had a fairly clean shot to the pin from the 200-yard marker. Jones with the title in his pocket laid up to the 100 yard marker, while Gresley-Jones took out a 6-iron looking to fade it on to the green. However, his shot bounced hard on the fringe, caroming left and rolling down the hill, into the tall grass. Maine meanwhile sent a towering iron right of the hole, that was knocked down by the massive tree, settling on the hill below the hole.
Gresley-Jones would find his ball, and send his shot from the thick rough across the green and onto the fringe, while the Spokane golfer would pitch to within eight feet for a look at birdie. Gresley-Jones came up short on his birdie chip, but Main would finally get one to fall as he drained an unlikely birdie putt to secure second spot with a 1-under 71, and a 213 total. Gresley-Jones missed his three-foot putt for par to finish third, shooting 2-over par 73 and 216 total for the tournament.
See full results in Tuesday’s Trail Times.