Photo by Tyler Brownbridge, Windsor Star. Article originally appeared Aug. 19, 2015 in the Windsor Star.
An 18-hole duel between the tournament’s top two seeds settled the 88th annual Essex-Kent Boys Golf Tournament.
Myles Thiessen won the match 1 up by draining a putt on the 18th hole from about four feet away to defeat Brett Harrison at Roseland Golf and Curling Club on Wednesday.
“Right after the 14th, I realized I had to start making birdies,” said Thiessen of Leamington. “Either you’re going to win with birdies or you’re going to tie.”
Thiessen played aggressively, putting the ball close to the pin and making his putts. He recorded five birdies over the last six holes, coming back from being two down after the first three.
“It was a swing thing, it was all in my head,” Thiessen said. “After going down, I just didn’t let him get anything else. I tried keeping it all square until I could go for it.”
Thiessen had trouble with his driver early in the round. He missed some fairways and needed creative shot shaping to get out of some jams. A solid par on the fourth hole steadied his game.
“I’m usually really straight off the tee, but when you come to an open course like Roseland, it’s time to grip it and rip it,” Thiessen said. “I can play out of the rough though, I can play out of anything.”
Harrison’s game was the exact opposite. He used accurate driving and good ball striking to keep him in solid position to score.
“I wanted to get off to a start where I hit some greens and made some pars,” Harrison said. “If he beat me with birdies, good for him. At the end, he started hitting some good, tight golf shots. I knew I had to get aggressive and start attacking pins.”
“I played well and made the clutch shots I needed to. I just came up a little bit short.”
Both players found their drives landing within a few yards of each other.
On the 11th hole, Thiessen drove his ball to the base of a huge maple tree. Asking for for his five-iron, he walked around the ball a few times and set up for the green.
“I’ll get around this,” he said, hitting a low cut shot that wrapped around the tree and landed in a greenside bunker about 25 yards from the pin.
Though Thiessen ended up conceding the hole, the two traded the lead for the rest of the match.
Both players made par on the 12th and Thiessen’s tee shot on the 185-yard 13th stopped dead four feet from the cup.
“We both started to warm up and hit good shots,” Harrison said. “I knew it was going to be a battle. It’s big to stay in the moment, stay calm and play the shot at hand.”
Mitchell Haggart carried Thiessen’s clubs, offering advice on shot selection and helping Thiessen navigate the course.
“A lot of my job was trying to keep Myles thinking about each shot,” Haggart said. “Not having him think too far ahead, not trying to stick it within two feet. I told him to just think about hitting the ball the way you want it, then we’ll worry about what happens next.”
Haggart had plenty of time to watch Thiessen’s game. The two have been playing partners for about five years.
“Myles is a little bit of a hothead,” Haggart said. “But if you can keep that in check, he plays great golf. In the last six holes, he was four-under. That’s great golf.”
“You have to be as consistent as possible, eventually you’ll crack the other guy. That won’t be a problem if you keep making birdies,” he said.
Thiessen’s birdie streak continued until a bogey on the 17th let Harrison get back in the match.
With things all square heading into the 18th, both took aggressive lines to the green. Harrison’s chip from just off the green landed short but Thiessen sealed the match with his last birdie, a four-footer that fell into the back of the cup.
“I shot a three-under and lost, so that should tell you everything,” Harrison said. “I couldn’t be more prouder for Myles. He played unreal.