Toledo redshirt freshman Mike Lancaster tallied birdies on two of the last three holes to earn his first provincial title with a victory at the Ontario Men’s Match Play Championship Friday at the Lake Joseph Club in Port Carling.Lancaster worked his way through six rounds of match play and the field of 64 golfers to top Chris Hemmerich on the 18th hole of the finals.
The final match saw the duo battle back and forth for the lead throughout the day, before Lancaster drained a 20-footer on the 17th hole to take a 1-up lead with a single hole left to play. Hemmerich answered back by placing his approach on the 18th hole to within 10 feet of the pin, before Lancaster dropped a shot inside Hemmerich’s ball to set up the birdie putt that would earn him the title.
Over the course of the week, Lancaster registered 23 birdies and one eagle.
The first-year Rocket had a strong contingent of supporters cheering him on throughout the final round and credits his family with helping him pull off the victory.
“Hats off to my brother and caddy, Chris; he’s a great golfer himself and really helped me stay in the moment and not get ahead of myself,” said Lancaster to the Golf Association of Ontario. “I really tried to just hit golf shots and stay on the task at hand. I had to keep focused on myself and doing what I needed to do, and I knew that if I delivered that, everything else would just take care of itself.”
The Ontario Men’s Match Play Championship is contested annually and features 64 of province’s best amateur golfers who have qualified through one of six tournaments held earlier this season, or who have gained an exemption into the event. Notable former champions include PGA Tour player David Hearn, Ian Leggatt, Dave Bunker and Big Break Indian Wells champion David Byrne, who captured the title in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Lancaster now will prepare to play in the 2012 Ontario Amateur championship at Summit Golf and Country Club July 10-13. He earned an exemption into the tournament by being one of the final two players in this week’s event.
He played in seven events (18 rounds) for the Rockets this spring and sported a 79.0 stroke average, the fourth-lowest total on the team.
Earlier this summer, Lancaster’s teammate, freshman Chris Selfridge, won the Irish Amateur Close Championship at Royal Portrush.
The Golf Association of Ontario contributed to this story.