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McCann finally ends long wait for victory

Brian McCann came from four shots back to capture a maiden Gosling's Invitational title in dramatic fashion at Belmont Hills yesterday.

The Canadian professional shot a four-under-par 66 yesterday, his lowest round of the tournament, to finish ten-under for the tournament, one shot ahead of Kirk Hanefeld, who led for the first three rounds.

Hanefeld, meanwhile, picked the worst possible time to have a bad day, carding a one-over 71, his first round in the 70s all week.

Danny King fell just short too, his two-under 69 left him in a tie for second at nine-under, and it should have been better. King missed a short putt on 18 for par that would have forced a play-off, as did Hanefeld.

McCann played the first nine holes at three-under after making birdie on the 1st, and eagle at the par-5 6th. He then grabbed a share of the lead after fellow countryman Billy Walsh dropped a shot at the par-4, 14th.

The former Nationwide Tour player took the lead outright after rolling in his fourth birdie at the par-4 16th, to place himself in the driver's seat.

At that stage the tournament was McCann's to lose, and he nearly did so after making back-to-back bogeys on 17 and 18, which gave Hanefeld and King a share of the lead.

However, McCann was spared the pressure of a play-off when King and Hanefeld also bogeyed the last, missing short putts to save par. Hanefeld two putted for bogey, while King failed to get up and down after he missed the green with his second shot.

McCann has come agonisingly close to winning this event on several occasions, and the sense of relief that flooded through the Canadian and several of his fellow countrymen who had gathered in support was palpable.

“It feels fantastic because I've had the chance to win here many times and haven't been able to close it out,” McCann said. “To finish bogey, bogey, and let it slip back, it was out of my control at that point and disappointing. But to finally win this event is a great feeling.

“All of those times I wasn't able to close it out and finished second, I've had a big lead going into the final round, and it's tough to play with a lead sometimes. Today, trailing by four, I knew I would have to go out and play a great round, and it was.”

One could not help but sympathise with Hanefeld, who led the field for 63 holes before losing his poise when it when it mattered most.

“I was 12-under with nine to play so I figured I was in pretty decent shape,” Hanefeld said. “I very much felt I was in control and just kind of played sloppy over the last nine holes. It kind of got away from me there a little bit.”

Like Hanefeld, Walsh was on course for another Gosling's title until he completely blew up on the 16th green where he carded a triple bogey after his driver off the tee strayed out of bounds.

“The wind was into us and I tried to push it with driver and hit it out of bounds unfortunately,” Walsh said. “I should have used a three wood.”

Walsh finished fourth at seven-under.

Camiko Smith conquered the local field and was seventh overall at two-under, while compatriot Mark Phillips won the amateur title by a convincing 18 shots.

Local player Hav Trott topped the senior amateur field, while John Brott won the senior professional title.

Winning smile: a golfer congratulates McCann by the 18th green at Belmont Hills (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published December 04, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 04, 2015 at 12:44 am)

McCann finally ends long wait for victory

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