Matthew Works Overtime For First Win


Canadian Tour-LargeCraig Matthew of Ile Bizard, QC drained a crucial four-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to capture the Ontario Open Heritage Classic, but it is safe to say he literally needed a little help from above to get there.
The 25-year-old Matthew, on the strength of a final round 6-under-par 66, wound up with a four-day total of 272 to finish deadlocked with Bob Conrad (Seattle, Wa.). Defending Order of Merit champion Steven Alker (New Zealand) finished three shots back, while three others were four off the pace.
But it was Matthew, with three eagles on the day, who roared back from five shots back to win his first Canadian Tour event.
It was an unbelievable day today, and it hasnt really sunk in yet, said Matthew, who became the first Canadian-born player to win a Tour event since Winnipegs Rob McMillan accomplished the feat at the 2000 TELUS Vancouver Open. This is a fantastic feeling. I needed some breaks today, and I got them.
The two biggest breaks came towards the end of the day when, on the par-5 15th and trailing Conrad by two strokes, an errant tee shot had him scrambling to find his ball within the five-minute limit. As spectators joined in the hunt and the clock ticking towards another shot from the tee, the ball mysteriously dropped out of a tree, saving Matthew a couple of strokes and enabling him to salvage par. On the next hole, the par-4 16th, another wayward tee shot bounced off a rules cart and came to rest five feet from the pin. An eagle putt and a Conrad bogey later, and Matthew took over the lead.
Like I said, I definitely got the breaks when I needed them, he laughed . But Ive played well this year, and I think it was just a matter of time before I won.
After paring the final hole, Matthew, playing two groups ahead of the leaders, watched from the putting green as Conrad sank a seven-foot birdie putt to force the playoff. On the second extra hole, Matthew blasted his third shot from the pin to within four feet while Conrads third shot from the fringe trickled well past the hole. Conrad then missed the par putt coming back, leaving Matthew with the short putt for the win.
It was a tough day today, I didnt have my A-game, but I am very pleased with the way I played this week, said the 27-year-old Conrad. To make that putt on 18 to send it to a playoff, with everyone watching, made me feel good. But give Craig creditwhen you shoot a score like that on the final day, you deserve the chance to win.
The Canadian Tour continues its northern Ontario swing with the Grant Forest Products/NRCS Classic, which gets underway Thursday.