Sheaves wins by four strokes at senior men’s championship

John DeMings
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Digby’s Andy Wilson finishes in three-way tie for fifth, misses in playoff for NS team

Bell Bay golfer Ernie Sheaves was sharp again Friday en route to a 2-under 69 and a four-stroke victory at the NSGA Senior Men’s Championship.

It was the second sub-70 round in a row at the Digby Pines course for the 58-year-old Sheaves. Following his opening round 75 on Wednesday, he improved by eight strokes to shoot a 67 on Thursday.

Sheaves entered the day at even par, and was locked in a street fight with Paragon’s Tom Banks through the first 10 holes, but turned it on the last seven holes to win in convincing fashion.

For Digby golf fans, the story of the tournament was the showing by local Andy Wilson, who shot a one-over par 72 in the closing round, moving him back into a tie for fifth place.

Wilson had been in fifth place after Wednesday’s opening round of 73, slipping to 11th after the second day when he recorded a 78.

The three golfers to tie for fifth—Wilson, Bill Burns of Lingan, and Peter Stirling of Ashburn—took part in a three-hole playoff to determine the final two players of the Nova Scotia senior men’s team.

Third and fourth place finishers Mike Hebb and Gerry MacMillan had declined team spots because of prior engagements. The senior men’s provincial team will compete later this month at the national championship in British Columbia

On the first extra hole, Burns sewed up his spot on the team, and two more holes were needed before Stirling earned the alternate spot on the provincial team.

Sheaves started his day with a bogey on the par 4 first hole, and dropped another shot on the par 4 fourth, but a birdie brought him back to plus-1, which equaled Banks’ score through nine holes. On the par 5 tenth hole, Banks made birdie while Sheaves made par, putting the golfers all square heading to the 11th tee.

“It started out tit for tat, none of us were really doing much, then Mike (Hebb) had a triple bogey (on #6) that hurt him but we were kind of hacking it out there on the front,” said Sheaves on the relatively uneventful front nine. A birdie from Banks, along with Gerry MacMillan and Bill Burns sitting at +6 and +7 respectively meant it became essentially a two-horse race for the final seven holes.

Sheaves quickly showed he wanted no part of a tight finish, making birdie on three straight holes—11, 12 and 13. He dropped a stroke on the par-3 14th before answering once again with a birdie on 15.

What was most impressive was the quality of approach shots Sheaves had during the impressive stretch of four birdies in five holes, outside of a bogey on #14, Sheaves’ four approaches combined likely totaled less than 25 feet.

“I have always been a good iron player, it’s been the strength of my game even when I was out west working,” said Sheaves, who spent years working in Alberta. Sheaves said he really tried to play shot by shot through the entire round but gained confidence during his run on the back nine. “I told myself before yesterday I was just going to focus on taking it shot by shot. When I got on my run, I knew how tough that can be for the other guy and I just had a ton of confidence”.

Sheaves said this is the pinnacle of his golfing career. “I have won a provincial (title) in senior fastball and been to Nationals in that sport, but yes for golf this is definitely my biggest moment.”

Sheaves went on to add having friend and fellow Cape Breton product Bill Burns will add to his Canadian championship experience later this month in British Columbia.

“I am really happy Billy made it, he’s a good friend of mine and a Caper so it’s all good.”

Lost in the translation of Sheaves impressive play was yet another strong round by Paragon’s Tom Banks, who posted rounds of 72-71-72 to finish two strokes over par. Banks will join his fifth senior team and head to the Canadian championships in back-to-back years.

Hebb would finish third overall after firing a 74, to leave him at plus-6 for the tournament. MacMillan was fourth with an eight-over total, and fifth was the three way tie between the aforementioned playoff contenders.

For full results from the Senior Men’s championship, click here


With a report by the NSGA

Organizations: Tom Banks, NSGA

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Alberta Cape Breton

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