The Rossland-Trail Birchbank Men’s Open crowned a new king Sunday as Brad Jones of Vernon won the 54-hole golf tournament by eight shots over defending three-time champion Dylan Maine of Spokane.
The 23-year-old Jones shot an efficient round of 2-under 70 Sunday after carding the week’s low round, 65, Saturday, and a 70 on Friday to finish at 11-under on the par-72, 6,555-yard Birchbank Golf Course.
“The first day I was really steady,” said Jones. “I made my first bogie of the day on 17 and birdied 18 to shoot 70 so I made a lot of pars. Yesterday, I got off to a quick start, got lucky and deuced the first hole and then played the first six at 4-under, which was the toughest six on the golf course, and then just kind of cruised from there.”
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 Sunday, all Jones had to do was stay consistent and out of trouble to clinch his first Birchbank title.
“Today, ultimately, I had a seven-shot lead so I knew If I go out and shoot an even or better, someone would have to shoot a 65 or better to catch me, which isn’t the easiest task.”
Jones did better than that, bagging birdies on the first and fifth holes on his way to a bogey-free round of 2-under 70 that included 13 straight pars to finish with a three-day total 11-under 205.
“I didn’t hit it close, but I didn’t really try to hit it close,” said Jones. “I tried to put everything within 20 feet and put a lot of good rolls on putts that were just burning edges, and nothing fell but that’s fine.”
Saturday was a different story for the Okanagan Golf Club instructor, as Jones eagled the first hole on the par-four first then birdied five, six, seven and nine to finish the front nine with a sizzling 6-under 30 on his way to a 7-under 65.
“You need to make birdies out here and I didn’t do that last year, but I did it this year so it feels good,” said Jones.
With identical scores of 2-under following Saturday, Maine and Gresley-Jones battled for second spot going into the final round. Maine got to 4-under on the front nine, while Gresley-Jones faltered, shooting a 37 to fall to 1-under.
But Gresley-Jones would not go quietly. He rebounded on the back nine, birdieing the 400-yard par-4, 12th and then stuck a 140-yard approach shot 12 inches from the pin on 15.