By Darren Matte
(PORT CARLING, ON) – Not only did defending champion Dave Bunker need to battle a very worthy opponent, Quinn Vilneff, in the finals of the Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) Ontario Men’s Match Play Championship, but he also had to battle the elements to claim his fourth title.
The tournament, held at the Lake Joseph Club in Port Carling, wrapped up on June 12 after six rounds of matches that began on June 9. What began as 64 players came down to Bunker, from the Brampton Golf Club and Vilneff, from the Essex Golf & Country Club.
The final round was a soggy affair with rain falling on the competitors throughout the round. Woodbridge’s Bunker held a lead as they began the back nine, but Vilneff made Bunker work for it, forcing him to attempt a four-foot putt on the 14th hole, which the 50-year-old Bunker missed.
That brought Amherstburg’s Vilneff back to all square. The 23-year-old Vilneff would get up and down on the 15th to take the lead. After the pair were even on the 16th, Bunker squared the match on the 17th hole, setting up a winner take all situation on the 18th. Both players played the hole similarly with their tee and approach shots. They both found the green in two and both had an eight-foot putt for birdie.
After Vilneff pushed his right, Bunker stepped up and drained his to win his second straight and fourth Ontario Match Play title.
“I knew the weather was going to be bad today and the bugs, but you just have to try and focus the best you can,” said Bunker about the conditions. “It is a long week and you need to be prepared to play lots of holes if you go far. I just got fortunate that things went my way. I got some good breaks and that’s what you need to make it to the final match.”
Bunker added that he wasn’t thinking about repeating as champion. “I wasn’t thinking too much about last year or repeating. It was more about how each match went. How I played each hole and how I was going to play the next.”
The road to the finals, for Bunker, included wins over Connor Denning (6&5), Cole Kent (3&2), Jordan Gregoris (2&1), Raymond Oh (1up) and Jeff Crowe (4&3). As for Vilneff he defeated Arjun Walia (6&4), Greg Mullins (7&5), Charles Corner (3&2), Nicholas Ross (1up) and Luke Moser (5&3).
Bunker will now take the momentum from this win and turn his attention to the U.S. Senior Amateur, June 25-28, in Sacramento, California after he qualified on June 1.