Byron Smith, the Canadian Tour’s player of the year in 2007, found some of that old form on the weekend as he won the circuit’s season-ending Desert Dunes Classic in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.
The 30-year-old from nearby Palm Springs shot six-under 66 Sunday after a 67 Saturday to finish at 16-under 272 and edge Kent Eger of Regina by two shots.
It was Smith's fourth career victory on the Canadian Tour and first since June of 2009. The trophy and winner's cheque for $24,000 (U.S.) eases the pain Smith felt after failing to advance through the first stage of the PGA Tour's qualifying tournament, or Q-school, last month.
He finishes the year at No. 11 on the circuit's money list and will have full-time status again next year.
The final round Sunday at Desert Dunes Golf Club turned into a two-man race between Smith and Eger, who provided early fireworks with a hole in one on the par-three fifth hole to pull into a tie. Eger also chipped in twice en route to a 67.
“Before we teed off I told [Eger] 'Let's give 'em a show today and boy he did that with his hole in one and two chip-ins,” Smith told cantour.com.“The crowd got a show and I’m elated that I was able to win especially against a field this strong.”
Smith had dramatic moments of his own, chipping in on the second hole to save par and then rattling off three consecutive birides at the turn, beginning on the ninth hole. "The birdies on 9,10 and 11 really got me going and I knew I had to stay aggressive with the way Kent was playing."
Jordan Cox of the United States and first-round leader Stuart Anderson of Sooke, B.C., shared third place at nine under, five shots behind Eger.
Jim Rutledge, a Champions Tour regular from Victoria, and Ryan Williams of Surrey, B.C., shared fifth.
Defending champion and top-ranked Canadian male golfer Adam Hadwin, of Abbotsford, B.C., tied for ninth place.
The tournament featured several celebrities in the field, including baseball greats Ozzie Smith and Rick Rhoden and retired hockey players Grant Fuhr and Marty McSorley. None of them made the cut.
Isabelle (Izzy) Beisiegel of St-Hilaire, Que., made her fifth start of the season as a tour member. Beisiegel, who earned her card at the circuit's spring qualifying school, missed the cut as well. She has said she plans to try to return to Q-school next year in a bid to win status again.