It used to be Ryan Sheppard couldn’t buy a win on the Mediocre Golf Association (MGA) circuit.
He figured he had the most runners-up or third-place finishes among active players.
But that’s changed in the past couple of years and Sheppard has now hit the winners circle for the second straight year.
Sheppard managed to come through a three-man playoff to win The Bastards, the MGA’s play on The Masters, at the Yellowknife Golf Club on Sunday afternoon. He managed to outlast both Kevin Hewitt and Daryl Snow to claim victory on the second playoff hole. All three entered bonus golf tied with scores of 87, and that meant back to the 14th hole to begin the playoff.
It was a disaster of a victory, Sheppard admitted.
“I had the honour of teeing off first and duffed it into the trees on the left,” he said. “Both of those guys had pretty good tee shots and I had a real good recovery to keep going.”
Sheppard and Snow matched each other’s score while Hewitt couldn’t, meaning Hewitt was out and the remaining pair went back to the 14th tee for the second sudden-death hole.
Just like the first go-round, Sheppard said he managed to find trouble, but in the opposite direction.
“I shanked it to the right that time,” he said. “I recovered again and somehow got it. I had no business winning it and no idea how I was still in the mix. I was just trying to put on a good show for the people watching and just made good recoveries each time. Blind squirrel sometimes finds the nut, as they say.”
Sheppard’s win got him the “big cheque” of $1.26, which vaulted him to the top of the Yellowknife chapter’s money list.
In addition to winning the title outright, Sheppard also won the low gross title. That’s a golfer’s score before handicaps are factored in. Thip Changthalasy was the low women’s finisher as she wound up in a tie for 21st.
Something Sheppard noticed about the leaderboard was the number of players who broke 100. In fact, everyone who finished in the top-16, those who received a piece of the purse, shot 98 or better.
“I can’t remember that many people scoring that low,” he said. “Four of us broke 90, and 90 has won tournaments before. That’s the first thing I noticed when looking at the scores.”
Shaun Morris, the chapter’s president, made note of Hayden Murray, the youngest player in the tournament. While not playing officially, he was entered as Guest 1. Morris said it gives players like Murray a chance to get some tournament experience.
Hughie Graham, who helps run the local MGA chapter alongside Morris, also noted the number of women players who have entered tournaments in recent years. Out of the 41 who played on Sunday, nine were female.
“More women have been entering MGA tournaments around North America but Yellowknife has the most registered per capita,” Graham said. “That’s something we’re proud of.”