August 11th, 2020

Valk tied for lead with one to go

By RYAN MCCRACKEN on July 23, 2020.

NEWS PHOTO RYAN MCCRACKEN Medicine Hat's Michael Valk chips onto the 18th green during the second round of the Alberta MenÕs Amateur Championship on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at Medicine Hat Golf and Country Club. Valk enters todayÕs third and final round in a three-way tie for the lead at 3-under par.

Michael Valk is one good round away from a provincial championship.

The 21-year-old Hatter posted a 1-under 70 Wednesday to move into a tie for the lead at 3-under entering today’s third and final round of the Alberta Men’s Amateur Championship, hosted by Medicine Hat Golf and Country Club.

“Any time you’re tied for the lead with one day left you’ve had a good week so far,” said Valk. “I’ll just take it easy, come back with a fresh mindset, same game plan.”

Valk posted four consecutive birdies on Holes 3 through 6 before struggling to a double-bogey on 8. While he bounced back with a pair of early birdies on the back-9, two bogeys to close it out left the Desert Blume golfer in a three-way tie with Red Deer’s Carter Graf and Lacombe’s Brady McKinlay.

“I kind of had the same game plan as yesterday. I just tried to hit shot by shot,” said Valk, who also competes with the UBC Thunderbirds. “I got off to a really good start and I maybe got a little too ahead of myself – I made a bad mistake on 8 then kind of got it back on 11 and 12. Tough holes coming in, especially with a little bit of pressure on you.”

Valk recorded a 2-under 69 in Tuesday’s opening round, making him one of just two players to finish each of the first two rounds below par. Graf – who posted the exact same 69-70 to sit even with Valk – is the other.

“That’ll put me in a pretty good spot going into the last round, so I’m pretty excited,” said Graf. “It’s probably the biggest event in Alberta, for sure for amateurs.”

McKinlay followed up a 67 Tuesday with a 72 Wednesday to sit alongside Valk and Graf at the top of the leaderboard. McKinlay is no stranger to the situation after holding the lead after two days at the 2018 Canadian Junior Boys Championship, also hosted by MHGCC.

“I think I can work off of that and just kind of calm down,” said McKinlay, who finished tied for sixth at the Canadian Junior Boys Championship. “A couple loose swings cost me today, and if I can tighten that up it’ll be good.”

Round one leader Chandler McDowell (66-79) struggled Wednesday, dropping 17 spots into a tie for 18th after shooting 8-over in the second round.

MHGCC’s Mitchell Kurtz (73-70) and Matthaus Taylor (74-69) enter the final round in a tie for ninth at 1-over. Fellow MHGCC golfer Nolan Burzminski (74-73) dropped one spot to 24th at 5-over, while teammates Sam Bratvold (76-72) and Ryan Hodgins (72-76) are tied for 27th at 6-over.

“I played well on the front and didn’t play so well on the back – that was kind of unfortunate,” said Bratvold, who kicked off the day with an eagle and finished the front-9 at 4-under. “I think overall I played well, I just made two or three mistakes on the back-9 that cost me.”

Desert Blume’s Jordon Forsythe (75-76) and Ryan Werre (76-75) sit even in a tie for 40th at 9-over entering the third round, while Medicine Hat’s Will Wood (78-75) and Desert Blume’s Lanny Seefried (74-80) finished just inside Wednesday evening’s projected cut with scores of 11-over and 12-over, respectively.

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