Volume 92, Issue 7

Tuesday, September 15, 1998

here we go


SPORTS
 

Smiling happy PGAer



Geoff Robins/Gazette


HEY EVERYBODY IT'S GUY SMILEY. Ashley Chinner was all smiles at Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville this past weekend for the Bell Canadian Open, where he finished in a solid thirteenth place.

By Brendan Howe
Gazette Staff

OAKVILLE – Ashley Chinner constantly smiles and says "thank-you" when spectators compliment him on a shot – he's not a typical golfer playing in a Professional Golf Association event.

The Scarborough, Ontario native walked around Glen Abbey Golf Club Sunday at the Bell Canadian Open with the confidence of a seasoned PGA veteran. He went on to record the lowest score by a Canadian in the tournament and in the process, started to turn some heads.

As he walked up to the first tee early in the afternoon he was greeted with a huge ovation from the crowd after recording the third-lowest score Saturday, shooting a 66. The smiling, good-natured Chinner did show some signs of nervousness after his first tee shot found itself off to the right in some trees.

"For the first five holes my heart was beating so fast my caddy told me to calm down," Chinner explained.

He quickly recovered and holed a chip from the fringe, netting him his first birdie of the day.

Chinner just missed making the top ten in the tournament, however, finishing 13th overall after recording a bogey on the 508-yard, 18th hole, which dropped him to five under par for the tournament. Teeing off at 18, Chinner had found himself on the leader board sitting in ninth place.

He still walked away with a generous cheque of $35,444, part of the $2.2-million US total purse. He had only made $7,000 previously this year on the Canadian tour.

"It was the absolute best time of my life," the 34-year-old said. "It was the highlight of my career to date."

A par on the final hole of the 72-hole event would have given the Canadian an invitation to the B.C. Open in Endicott, New York – the next stop on the PGA tour. Instead Chinner will remain playing on the Canadian PGA tour.

He said he was thinking about the chance to play in the PGA's next event as he entered the back nine of the final round and was a little disappointed about not being able to do so. He was still very pleased with his performance, adding that doing so well in front of the home crowd was a real thrill.

"I had standing ovations at just about every green – it was great," Chinner said.

As he was being driven to the 10th hole after double-bogeying the par four ninth, Chinner was still smiling and enjoying himself. He said later it didn't really bother him that he hadn't fared too well on the last hole of the front nine.

As he walked from hole to hole, spectators loudly cheered him on. As he walked to the fifth tee, he even flipped his ball to a ten-year-old spectator standing by the ropes with his father.

While Chinner managed to escape Glen Abbey's challenging valley under par, some of golf's more notable players did not. Ernie Els, Steve Elkington and Bright's Grove native Mike Weir all fell victim to the Abbey and failed to make it to the final round.

After putting his ball in the water in front of the 18th green twice during the tournament, even eventual winner Billy Andrade said Glen Abbey can be very unforgiving. He noted at one point in his career he played so poorly at the Abbey he refused to come back for four years. His attitude did change, though, as a result of his victory.

"I love the 17 holes, the 18th they can change a bit. Nah, I'm just kidding. I like it here."


To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998