Bearns has still got game

Darcy MacRae
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He doesnt hit it like he used to, but veteran knows the game; part of provincial team in Saskatoon

Eddie Bearns (left) will lend his experience to Newfoundland and Labrador teammates Mike Furlong (second from left), Stephen Hawco and Adam Stanley (right) at the Canadian mens amateur golf championship in Saskatoon, Sask., next week. Photo by Joe Gibbons

Eddie Bearns is the first to admit hell wear a few different hats this weekend at the Canadian mens amateur golf championship in Saskatoon, Sask.

For starters, he has his sights set on being one of the 64 golfers who survive the cut after Mondays action. But hes also serving as a coach/mentor/big brother to a trio of golfers from this province who are enjoying their first trip to a national championship tournament.

Thats what I try to do ... to help them along and let them know you cant worry about one bad shot or a bad day, said Bearns.

Thats what got my game going really well. I played with a lot of good golfers who offered me advice and I learned from them.

Bearns heads the foursome of Newfoundland and Labrador golfers taking part in the national amateur tournament. The 45-year-old St. Johns resident is being joined in Saskatoon by Adam Stanley, Mike Furlong and Stephen Hawco. All three are also from the provincial capital and like Bearns are members of the Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club.

The quartet qualified for the nationals via the provincial amateur championship last month at their home club, with Bearns taking the title by shooting a four-day total of 299. Stanley was second at 300, with Furlong and Hawco tying for third at 301.

Bearns is at least 15 years older than his teammates and unlike them, has experience at national tournaments. The trip to Saskatoon marks his fifth time at nationals and hes eager to pass along some of what hes picked up over the years.

Golf is a four-day event. Youve got to get it going for all four days and have everything clicking. Its tough to do that and thats why nobody besides Tiger Woods wins a whole bunch of tournaments in a row, said Bearns.

Bearns has been one of the provinces best golfers for two decades. Hes been enjoying the sport for 32 years and won his first provincial mens amateur title in 1990, when he was 28.

I played a bit of softball when I was younger, but once golf started, I played almost every day, Bearns said. But now I have to work for a living (with Public Works Canada), so I play two or three times a week.

When he won the mens amateur in 1990, many predicted it would just the first of many provincial titles for Bearns. However, he didnt win another one until this year, despite always being in the mix for the championship in the 17 years between titles.

That just goes to show how tough it is to win at this game, Bearns said.

Bearns remembers clearly the first time he travelled to a national amateur championship. He felt he put too much pressure on himself to perform and ended up getting away from the things he did best.

Id say Im not half as nervous now as I was the first time, Bearns said. I dont hit it as long as I used to, but Im more consistent down the middle. I felt a lot worse about a bad shot back then ... It all comes with experience.

Its that experience Bearns is trying to relay to his younger teammates in Saskatoon. He said all three are fine golfers with or without his advice, but theyve been asking him a lot of questions regarding the national tournament. Bearns is impressed with the skills of each young man, but Furlong in particular has caught the veterans eye.

The 21-year-old beat Bearns in a playoff for the Bally Haly club championship last year, and already has two Bally Haly titles to his credit. According to Bearns, Furlong has an opportunity to go very far in the sport and might even play professionally some day.

Hes one of the best young guys Ive seen in a while, said Bearns. He plays almost every day and it really shows. Hes a bit of a gambler and hell rip the ball. He could easily finish in the top 30 or 40 (in Saskatoon).

Bearns would like nothing more than to see the entire Newfoundland contingent at the nationals advance past the cut. To do so, theyll have to finish in the top 64 (out of 166) after two rounds.

If we can shoot a couple of 74s or be in that area, we might have a good chance, said Bearns.

When the four golfers return from Saskatoon later next week, theyll then get ready for this seasons Bally Haly club championship tourney. Counting last years playoff loss to Furlong, Bearns has finished second at the event a half-dozen times without ever taking the title. Its a championship he desperately wants, even if he has to go through three friends and former teammates to get it.

A lot of people say Eddie Bearns is a competitive golfer and hes always in the mix at tournaments. And thats how Ill always be as long as Im golfing, said Bearns.

Bearns, Stanley, Furlong and Hawco begin play at the Canadian amateur championship Sunday. If they survive Mondays cut, will continue playing until Wednesday.



dmacrae@thetelegramcom

Organizations: Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatoon, Sask. Canada

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