Walker, Hallberg capture Senior titles at Cooke

Golf Saskatchewan president Kevin Duchscherer (left) presents Rick Hallberg (right) with the Senior Men's trophy at Cooke Municipal Golf Course on Wednesday evening. Photo by Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald

The competition was fierce, but Kim Walker and Rick Hallberg captured the 2023 Golf Saskatchewan Senior Men’s and Women’s titles at Cooke Municipal Golf Course, with Todd Turgeon taking home the Mid-Master’s title.

It marks a period of dominance in Saskatchewan Senior Golf as Walker has captured four of the last five senior Women’s titles while Hallberg has won five senior Men’s titles in the last six years.

A strong first round would give Kim Walker a lead she would never relinquish as a first round 75 put her nine shots clear of Saskatoon’s Kathy Ziglo.

Ziglo would give Walker a push on Wednesday with a final round 75, while Walker carded an 81 which included a three-shot swing on the par four 16th hole where Walker would record a double bogey six and Ziglo recording a birdie three.

Despite the scare on the back nine, Walker says she is proud to capture four titles in the last five years.

“I’m thrilled. The first one was when I had just turned the age to be able to play in the event. So that was great. The year that I didn’t win, I didn’t play because I think that was a COVID year and I decided not to go to the event. I (have) won the last three which, which is fantastic. I’m so proud and so happy to be winning these events, being competitive and active in the game at this age. There’s a great group of ladies and lots of good competition.”

Kim Walker holds the Senior Women’s trophy on the 18th green at Cooke Municipal Golf Course on Wednesday afternoon. Walker defeated Kathy Ziglo by three shots. Photo courtesy of Golf Saskatchewan

Walker is no stranger to Cooke Municipal having played several rounds at the course in the past. She says the conditions this week were the best she has ever seen.

“The first thing I have to say is what amazing shape this golf course was in. I played it several times before, and it has never been this green or lush or immaculate. The greens were just perfect. So, it was an absolute pleasure to play at the golf course. It’s just a little diamond in the rough up here.”

Walker, who plays out of Wascana Country Club, says the key to playing at Cooke is a strong tee shot and knowing where to place your approach shot.

“Keeping it in the fairway is number one and keeping it below the pin. You want to be below the pin all the time and not have those side winding putts or downhill putts because they can get really fast, and they can be very scary. So, I found there were even shots that sometimes I don’t even mind missing the green and just short of the green because it’s an easier little chip or putt up than try to come from a shot that’s too long.”

Pauline McDougall was the top Cooke Municipal player finishing with sole possession of third place with a three-day gross score of 251.

The top three finishers have qualified for the 2023 Canadian Women’s Senior Championship in Woodstock, Prince Edward Island from Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at Mill River Golf Club.

Hallberg holds off Phelps for Senior Men’s title

In the Men’s event, Rick Hallberg held off a final round surge from Saskatchewan Hall of Fame inductee Brad Phelps to capture his fifth title in the last six years.

Hallberg says the competition provides a razor thin margin for error and is happy to come out on top.

“(It’s) pretty satisfying this year because I knew it was going to be really tough up here because there’s so many good players and guys I play with all the time, they know the course well and they’re just good players flat out. Especially against the guys I play against because there’s so many good guys. One slip up and they’re on you. They are on you like you wouldn’t believe.”

Hallberg shot 74 on Monday and followed it up with rounds of 72 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He says the key to his success was finding the fairway off the tee and having a caddy.

“I drove the ball really well today and for the most part, I drove it pretty good all week. Putting wasn’t too bad, But I was happy with that. Brett, he caddied for me yesterday and today. That was a big help, especially yesterday in that rainy day, because we got poured on all day long. It wasn’t just me, probably the last 40 guys we got and one and a half holes with no rain. And then after that we just got hammered (with rain).”

In terms of local talent, the leaderboard saw plenty of local talent near the top. Cliff Selander finished with sole possession of third place with a total gross score of 225 for all three rounds. Trent Kachur finished one stroke behind at 226. Martin Ring captured fifth place with a final gross score of 227 and Darren Jenkins tied for sixth place at 231.

The top three finishers in Hallberg, Phelps and Selander have all qualified for the 2023 Canadian Men’s Senior Championship at Big Sky Golf and Country Club in Pemberton, BC from Sept. 5-8.

Brent Wotypka received an invitation by finishing tops in the super-senior (65+) division outlasting Colin Coben in a playoff. Ring and Kachur also received quota positions.

Spiritwood’s Turgeon captures Mid-Masters Men’s title

Golf Saskatchewan president Kevin Duchscherer (left) presents Todd Turgeon (right) with the Mid-Masters plaque at Cooke Municipal Golf Course on Wednesday evening.

In the Mid-Masters (ages 40-54), Spiritwood Golf Club’s Todd Turgeon took home the title with a gross score of 212 for the tournament.

Turgeon began the tournament with a first round 69 with rounds of 72 and 71 on Tuesday and Wednesday. He says he needed to stay focused and locked in on the course due to the nature of Cooke Municipal.

“I just played steady all week and hit a lot of fairways and just tried to keep it below the hole, Cooke is such a nice course to play all the time. You just want to be in position off the tee and then around the greens because it just can play so tough if you’re out of position.”

Turgeon added that he was able to capitalize around and on the greens to pick up strokes.

“I think it’s just my short game and I putted really well. I made a lot of 6-to-8-foot par putts that you have to do out here and obviously you have got to drive it well. So, I drove it in position a lot of the days too, which helps. You got to roll in those par putts and make some birdie putts.”

Turgeon has qualified for the Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Algonquin Golf Course in St. Andrews, New Brunswick from Aug. 21-24.