Nick Lepine came close as anyone to winning the Moose Jaw men’s city golf championship last year without actually claiming the title – a loss in a playoff to Trevor Benson saw the Lynbrook Golf Club standout landing in second place in the closest of fashions.
And sure enough, the first-round leader in the 2019 championship found himself in another battle on Sunday afternoon at the Lynbrook as former provincial junior champion Leighton Bearchell gave chase. Lepine went into the second round with a one-shot lead after an opening-round 71 at the Hillcrest Golf Club Saturday, with Bearchell a single shot back.
In the end, Lepine would be up to the task as he and Bearchell each carded two-under-par 69s, giving Lepine his first men’s city championship.
“It was a really good round, we were all playing well and it was good to get the win,” Lepine said shortly after accepting the championship trophy from The Sweet Spot’s Carlo Berardi. “The first two holes I eagle-birdied and put a bit of space between us, but then a few misses by me and good shots by him and he capitalized on some opportunities. Before you knew it we were right neck-and-neck again.”
As mentioned, Lepine wasted little time getting things going on Sunday, eagling the 462-yard par five first hole and following with a birdie on the second. Bearchell went birdie-par to start, giving Lepine a three-shot cushion right off the bat.
Bearchell wouldn’t go quietly, though, and with Lepine recording bogeys on six, seven and nine, he responded back-to-back birdies on the final two holes of the front nine to see both players record 35s and right back at square one.
“It makes you think a lot more, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Lepine said of the close battle. “It doesn’t make you focus on the shot so much, kind of takes your mind away from it, but it all worked out.”
Things became very interesting when Bearchell birdied the 11th to Lepine’s par, tying things up with seven holes to play. Two holes later, Lepine was once again up by a pair after taking birdie on the 13th to Bearchell’s bogey.
A birdie on 17 saw Bearchell once again close to within one, setting up a tense final hole that saw both players with long putts after dropping their approach shots 20 feet out on the left side of the green. Both two-putted to card identical 69s and give Lepine the title.
Defending champion Trevor Benson finished four shots back at 75-69-144 to take third place, while Shawn Loney had the fourth 69 of the day to finish 76-69-145.
The win marked the latest golf milestone for Lepine this season, as earlier this summer he shot a 63 to set a new course record at the Lynbrook.
“I know when I hit the record there, I credited to Craig and Trevor (Benson), I can’t thank them enough for how much they’ve helped me,” Lepine said. “Then just coming out here to the Lynbrook, it’s nothing but good people out here, I golf with boys like Alf Paul, Brett Sentes, Shawn Muchowski, it makes it fun coming out all the time and when you’re enjoying yourself you’re going to get better and better playing the game. So I just love coming out here and it’s nice to get this win.”
Chris Knopp followed an opening-round 80 with a 70 on Sunday to finish with a 150 total and take first place in the first flight while Doug Maes (92-79-171) took top spot in the second flight.