Monday, August 25, 2014


The Great Waterway Classic 2014

David Bradshaw tapped in his second putt on the seventy-second hole to win the 2014 Great Waterway Classic at the Loyalist Country Club last weekend. For those of you who attended the event, it was a great opportunity to enjoy fine golf. This is the third time that the “Classic” has been held in Bath, but the second time as part of PGA TOUR Canada.


The Professional Golfers’ Association took over the northern circuit two years ago, and it has proven to be a great success. I spoke with Dave Mills, a recent inductee into the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame, about the event. Dave worked as a starter for the week, and he knows the game of golf. He has been involved in the game for decades, and is the proud father of Jon and Jeff Mills. Both of his sons have had successful careers in the game. Jon just missed the cut in Bath when he lipped a putt on the 36th qualifying hole. Jeff will be the hosting pro when the TOUR swings north to Wildfire this week.


“It has been tremendous for the game,” Dave told me when we talked about the PGA coming to the Canadian circuit. Dave worked primarily in the development of the game in junior golf. He had an opportunity to keep his eye on players with potential. One player that caught his eye is Chris Hemmerich from Guelph, Ontario.


                                                                  Chris Hemmerich
“As a junior, his name would always be visible,” he told me. But the remarkable success that Hemmerich has recently achieved somewhat surprised him. “He certainly emerged from a non-traditional road to golfing success. He attended the University of Guelph, whereas most Canadians head to American Colleges on scholarships. He had to contend with Canadian winters, while most of the other pro golfers play in the south all winter. Nonetheless, Hemmerich played in contention all week. With scores of 68, 66, and 66, he led the tournament into the final day. He carded a 71 on the final day, finishing in a tie for fifth.


This is just his first week as a pro, having jumped into the money ranks after coming second in the United States Amateur Championship. He lost to Corey Connors in match play. Connors and Taylor Pendrith went to Kent State, a powerhouse in U. S. College Golf. Hemmerich defeated both of them previously at the World Amateur. He has gained exemption to some of the great PGA events next year, and will try to earn the right to play with the big boys.


It is a difficult ladder to climb, to play at the highest level of the game. More than 150 golfers began the Classic. That number was cut in half after the second round. At the end of the season, the top five golfers qualify for the Tour. Following another year, a lucky few may qualify to play on the PGA Tour. You get the point. After a successful college career, and then three or four more testy years, you might make the grade.

                                                                 Andrew Georgiou
I also had an opportunity to connect again with Andrew Georgiou, a South African golfer with Cypriot roots. Andrew began playing the back nine on his final round, trailing the leader by seven strokes. He began the tournament with two rounds of 68, but fell to a 73 on his third round. As he stepped up to the final hole, he said to himself, “I don’t like this hole,” and pulled an iron from the bag. His two playing partners gripped and ripped. He landed to the right of the green with his second shot, and played a stroke over par on the hole. He finished with a 68.


“I hate ending with a bogey,” he told me after the round. “But it is great playing again in Canada. The courses have been great, the conditions almost ideal. After the PGA TOUR Canada, I will return to South Africa to finish the Sunshine Tour. Our summers, your winters!” he quipped.


As far me, off on a little European vacation. If I can find the right event, and the right way to get it to you, you will hear from me; otherwise, I will see you when I see you.
I drifted across the rippling waters of the Bay of Quinte, on the short ferry ride from Adolphustown. Always a great trip.





James Hurst



Monday, August 18, 2014


Ready for REDBLACKS Football!


The Ottawa REDBLACKS did not trail in the Canadian Football League game last Friday night for 59 minutes. As you well know, these games last one hour. With about five minutes remaining in the game, the Eskimos’ long snapper Ryan King fired several balls back to one of the personnel from the team. He wanted to make sure that he had it right when the moment came.

                                                      Long Snapper # 53 Ryan King
With less than a minute remaining, King sprang into action. He placed both his hands on the ball, and fired it back perfectly to the holder. Grant Shaw kicked the ball through the uprights to give the Eskimos the lead at 10-8. That was all she wrote, as they say. Game over. The REDBLACKS remain tied for second, with a record of 1-7.


The Eastern teams have really taken it on the chin thus far in the season. It does not appear likely to change much as the season nears the halfway point.


In case you have not yet been to a REDBLACKS game this year, and you enjoy football, it should be in your plan book. There are six games remaining, including the game this Sunday against the Calgary Stampeders. Tickets are scarce, as the game last Friday was sold out. There are 24 000 seats in TD Place, but they managed to squeeze in a few extras.


The stadium was officially opened in July at Lansdowne Park. Included in the rearrangement of the facility is a sweet 10 000 seat arena for the Ottawa 67’s. TD Place will also be the home of the Ottawa Fury Football Club of the North American Soccer League.


Mike Reilly led the Eskimos attack, completing 26 passes in 35 attempts. He also scampered for 78 yards on 8 carries. But it was a game dominated by the defence of both teams. On several occasions, it appeared that momentum had swung to either team. But ineptitude reared its ugly head for both teams. The Eskimos marched down to the REDBLACKS three yard line, only to fumble and turn the ball over.


Ottawa quarterback Henry Burris threw an interception on the very next play, and Edmonton defensive backfielder Marcell Young ran it in for a touchdown; however, the Eskimos were penalized on the play, negating the TD.


Without labouring the issue, there were far too many penalties in the game, especially the unnecessary ones: objectionable conduct, unnecessary roughness, etc. Both teams could be faulted for inept play, particularly the pass receivers who dropped far too many balls.


But the fans remained to the end, the bitter end. They will be back, without a doubt, because they are real football fans, and they are thrilled to have the CFL back in Ottawa.


“Big Joe”, the REDBLACKS’ mascot, was inspired by a logger named Joseph Montferrand. In the 1800s, logging was an important industry in the Ottawa area. The late Bernie Bedore wrote about “Big Joe” in a series of children’s stories. The stories will be provided in a series of books that will be distributed to young fans who join the REDBLACKS youth fan club.


All in all, a great night in the nation’s capital.



James Hurst

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Rogers Cup Highlights 2014



Most tennis observers were not completely surprised when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga emerged as the singles champion at the Rogers Cup tennis championships in Toronto last Sunday.


Many factors contributed to his success. From his opening match against a fellow Frenchman, he clawed his way through the competition. He eliminated Edouard Roger-Vasselin in straight sets, a tie-breaker in the first, and 6-1 in the second. As a thirteenth seed in the tournament, he realized that he would likely face the best in the world to win. His second round match against Jeremy Chardy was also a two set affair, and led to his match against the number one player in the world, Novak Djokovic.


Naturally, Djokovic is featured on the cover of the Rogers Cup magazine, along with Roger Federer, Milos Raonic, and Rafael Nadal. Nadal chose not to come to Toronto, recuperating from nagging injuries. Raonic has emerged as Canada’s greatest player ever, and had just won his first big tournament in Washington. Federer, the crafty veteran, was playing in the lower section of the draw, and would not face Tsonga until the final.


                                                                   Gael Monfils
Djokovic had disposed of Gael Monfils in the second round, but with some difficulty. Monfils plays a wild scrappy game, always entertaining. In his comments after the match, Djokovic told me, “Monfils is an unpredictable opponent. At least when I will play Tsonga in my next match, I will know what to expect.”


                                                              Djokovic, after the match.
He did know what to expect, but Tsonga gave him more than he could handle, eliminating Djokovic 6-2, 6-2, in straight sets. Djokovic was asked about his preparation for the match. “Well, I prepared for over two weeks. I played a lot of tennis on the hard courts, and I arrived here early. Sometimes you can find a way to get out of the trouble; sometimes you cannot. Today it wasn’t to be.” And he even smiled, a little, when commenting upon the fact that he had won one, and lost one match since his recent wedding. “Not bad, 50% of success,” he added.


Andy Murray entered the quarter final the easy way, with a walkover from Richerd Gasquet who retired with an abdominal strain. Tsonga won the first set, drilling a serve to the outside line in the tie break. In the second set, Tsonga double faulted when he was at 0-15, hit long to make it 0-40, and lost the set with a net shot. At that point in the match, Murray had won 20 of the previous 22 points, and was steaming along. Tsonga climbed back into the match with a strong power game, and kept Murray slightly off balance, always chasing, hitting long. Tsonga closed the match with a booming ace. 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.


                                                                 Andy Murray
Murray acknowledged that he had some trouble adjusting to the hard surface after five weeks on clay and grass. He said the court was “definitely quicker”, and that Tsonga was “really tough to beat,” and that he was a “great athlete”.


Federer moved through the lower half of the draw to face Tsonga in the final. Federer’s play had improved throughout the week, and the result almost seemed to be a foregone conclusion; however, when Roger stroked a backhand shot into the net, Tsonga realized that he has just won the Rogers Cup, and the $598 000 that goes with the title. Not bad for a week’s work.  


Tsonga became the first player in 12 years to knock off four top ten players in a single Masters 1000 event. He will be a treat to watch next year.


James Hurst

August 12, 2014 

Monday, August 04, 2014


Bump Bump Kill!



I am quite certain that I do not differ greatly from other scribes when I say that I am gratified when a story literally falls onto the pages.



I have been motivated, in the past week or so, to write about the following: The Rogers Cup, and the success of Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic in Washington at the ATP Championships; the recent success of the Toronto Blue Jays, notwithstanding their struggles in Houston; the Commonwealth Games; the Canadiens’ signing of P. K. Subban, and the fact that he is now paid more than Sidney Crosby; Aussie Rules Football on TSN; Hall of Fame Football Inductions in Canton, Ohio; and the new arrivals to the Buffalo Bills.



All of those suggestions were overruled when I met Landis Doyle and Brendan Wong. They are staying with her parents in our house rental next door, and they presented me with a column that I had to write.



Both are successful volleyball players. It is not a stretch to say that volleyball is most important to them. Consider this: every morning, Brandon sets up 97 nets for the City of Toronto for volleyball players to play in the parks and beaches in Toronto, mostly in the Ashbridges/Bay Beach areas. Landis has just returned from France, where she played professionally. She is nursing a tender knee, and goes under the knife later this month at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto to repair the damage.



They met at Humber College, in Toronto, where they both played varsity volleyball. Landis arrived there due to her stellar play at Dunbarton High School. While at Humber, Landis also played for the Durham Attack. Brendan’s route was through his work in Basketball. He was involved in the Ontario Basketball Association skills development program, and played Club basketball for the Mississauga Monarchs.                                              



I watched in awe as they practised for a couple of hours on the back lawn. I cemented pipe to hold the net posts, and hauled out the old net for them. I think they were amazed at my preparation. They came well prepared themselves, with their own net, and a bag of balls. Think tennis practice. Serves, kills, smashes. You really don’t want to wander all over the acreage for one or two balls, when you are gearing up for an event. Better to bring at least half a dozen.





Brendan is working towards his next event in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is the North American Chinese Volleyball Invitational Tournament, for teams from all over North America. Nine players on the court, instead of the usual six. In terms of nationality, one must be one-sixteenth Chinese, he told me. I questioned the nine man idea. Landis told me: “It’s really a fast game. Most kills are saved, due to the number of players on the court.”



Landis set up kills for Brendan, one after another. They even put out the old hockey net on the service line, as a target for the smashes!


They were both highly skilled players, making their mark with the great game of volleyball, in the sunshine of Prince Edward County.



James Hurst

August 4, 2014.  

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