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Oct. 21, 2021 | Thursday
Local News
Dramatic playoff finish as NOTL golf champs defend their titles

Men's champ dominates the field with 16-shot win, women need 4-hole playoff to decide winner



The men served up some sizzle but the women supplied the drama and fortitude during a humid, steamy championship weekend at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club.

Men's open defending champion James Grigjanis-Meusel left everyone else competing for second place as he beat his nearest competitor by a Tiger-like 16 shots over the two-day tournament.

On the women's side, two of the region's best female golfers went toe-to-toe for 36 holes – and then had to play four more sudden-death holes late Sunday afternoon to declare a winner.

Defending champ Yolanda Henry edged another former club champion, Louise Robitaille, on the fourth extra hole. But it was a hard-earned victory.

"I started the second round with a three-stroke lead, which I lost to Louise on the front 9," Henry told The Lake Report.

"I was having trouble with my driver and 3-wood, and found myself scrambling to get back on track,"

She needed to bear down and focus better.

"On the back nine, Louise and I went back and forth. She had a one-stroke lead going into the 18th hole and when she missed her putt for par, I knew I had to sink my putt to tie the match. And I did."

As dozens of spectators swarmed the course to watch the battle, the women replayed the 10th, 11th and 18th holes, but were still tied after each one.

Showing no nerves, Henry made a clutch putt of about eight feet on #18 to tie the hole.

During the playoff, she said, "I really felt no pressure because Louise is such a great golfer, I assumed she would win. She'd had a couple of beautiful birdies and I figured she’d pull one out again."

Back on the 10th again, Henry said it looked like they could be in for a long evening. "Neither of us were planning to give up or give in."

But she said Robitaille gave her an opening on the fourth playoff hole and "I miraculously was able to take advantage of it to win."

It's her third women's open title, winning last year and in 2016.

"I never imagined that when I moved to NOTL as a novice golfer 15 years ago that this would even be possible," Henry said, adding she and her husband Mike enjoy the "wonderful community of fellow golfers and friends" at the NOTL club.

Robitaille's performance earned her the senior women's crown. Both she and Henry qualified for the regional Champion of Champions tournament in September at Niagara National Golf Club in Stevensville.

For the lanky Grigjanis-Meusel, 27, his second straight title was a dominant performance. Last year he won by one shot with a clutch putt on the final hole.

This year his goal was to go under par for the tournament and it was mission accomplished. He ended up at 5-under (69-70=139). That was 16 shots ahead of Jim Panetta, another former club champ, who took the senior men's title. He and the open champ qualify for the Champions tourney next month.

Grigjanis-Meusel credited his win to his putting, which he practised "a lot" prior to the tourney.

The key hole from his perspective was #14 on Sunday, when he rolled in about a 40-foot birdie putt.

"That was a big one because I was 1-over on the back nine to that point," he said in an interview.

It also coincided with his parents Daina and Heinz arriving to watch him finish. "They saw me make the putt, so that was special."

Having such a big lead can prompt mental errors, but Grigjanis-Meusel said he worked hard to "stay focused. I knew if I played my game and just worried about one shot at a time, I'd be fine."

As the trophy presentations wound down around 7 p.m. Sunday, there was just a little time for celebrating, he said.

But not too much. The champ works on the grounds crew at the golf course and he had to be up bright and early for his Monday morning shift.

No time to rest on his laurels, work started at 5:30 a.m.


Women's super seniors: Lisa Allen. A flight: Ginny Green. B flight: Susan Gagne. C flight: Carolyn Porter.

Men's super seniors: Ted Carmichael. A flight: Jim McMacken. B flight: Jim Garrett (in a playoff). C flight: John Kozik. D flight: Martin Vagners.

TOURNEY NOTES: Congrats to the Murrays, Glen and Cathy. She had a spectacular eagle 2 on the tough par 4 seventh hole on Saturday and he finished eighth overall in the men's open, one shot out of a playoff for the B flight title. That flight was won by NOTL native Jim Garrett, who had an excellent tournament, making some key shots when he needed them, including a birdie on the first playoff hole to beat Sean Simpson. The playoff almost wasn't needed as Simpson, who shot a red hot 78 on Sunday, ran into trouble on the finishing hole to end up tied with Garrett.