Golfers scramble for Staal Open spots
By Gary Moskalyk
City and area golfers were shut out at the Fort William Country Club qualifier as 46 golfers vied for 10 available spots to advance to the Staal Foundation Open later this week.
Marathon’s Darcy Donaldson three-putted from 12 feet out on the 18th green to shoot a score of 72.
“I thought I had to make that (putt) to have any chance, I was one-under coming into there. I definitely wasn’t going to leave it short,” said Donaldson.
Donaldson had the lowest score amongst locals hoping to advance.
“If I miss by one after that three-putt, that’ll burn me a little bit, but it’s golf. You learn.” Donaldson’s thoughts proved prophetic.
As the results came in, Donaldson’s 72 left him a stroke shy of a six-man playoff to determine the final three spots.
Tyler Dunlap, 21, from Texas was one of players tied at 71.
“I was just wanted to play a clean round,” he said. “I was off to a terrible start today — two over on the front nine. Anything can happen on a Monday. Guys can light it up, guys can make a bunch of mistakes. I just wanted to play a clean round, play to my potential. I find if I play within myself I usually get the job done.”
Among the Thunder Bay players participating were Bill Shewchuk (74), Barry Caland (75) and Nathan Breukelman (77). Qualifier co-ordinator Tony Stokaluk was surprised that the local community couldn’t land some of the spots.
“Between the seven local guys and six out of town area players I thought at least two or three would have a really good shot. Maybe the nerves come into play.”
“I thought someone would shoot a little lower than 69,” he continued. “That’s not saying that someone in the last three groups can’t. 69 is a good score. There’s two of them at 70 and five of them at 71. That’s pretty good shooting from this group of players.”
Ultimately Paul Woodbury of the U.S. recorded a 68, four players shot 69, and two shot 70 to advance to the Staal Open.
“The course was made long, but the flags were in easy positions to shoot to,” noted Stokaluk.
Meanwhile at Whitewater, opening ceremonies were held on Monday morning. There was a strong Fort William Historical Park presence, complete with native song and dance, cannon and gun fire, bag pipes and voyageurs.
Eric Staal, the oldest of the hockey-playing brothers, is excited to see how the three-year event performs. Money raised will go towards cancer research.
“First of all, it means a lot to be involved with a great community event,” said the Carolina Hurricanes captain, who teed off to open the event along with his parents Henry and Linda and brothers Marc, Jordan and Jared. “We’ve talked about starting a foundation for a number of years. It’s been a process where we’ve wanted to do it right. We wanted to take our time with it. It just worked to our advantage to attach our names to an event like this and jump on board.
“We know it’s going to be well supported by our community and by the people that live here,” Eric added. “For us, to just be involved, is great. We’re hoping to generate as much as we can to be able to give back to some great local charities. Just be a part of a great event and a great week.”