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Trevor Zeck Wins the 2003 Gems-Newton Cup

 

Trevor Zeck (keft), the 2003 GNC Champion, laughs gregariously alongside runner-up Dave Lockhart, who is checking his scorecard.

 
Radium Resort, BC. Ė Walking up the 18th fairway Sunday, Trevor Zeck started getting teary-eyed. He had a 3 shot lead on Dave Lockhart and now this. Not now. There was unfinished business.

"He was getting a bit emotional and I just said, ĎItís OK,í" said his playing partner Rich Fontaine.

Regaining his composure, Zeck three-putted from 50 feet but it was still enough to win the 4th GNC at the 5200-yard, par-69 Radium Resort Country Club. Zeck fended off runner-up Lockhart by three strokes, firing a 12 over 81 for a final championship score of 306.

"I couldnít focus on the second putt [on No. 18]. I just wanted the [championship] to be over," said Zeck. "Itís a wonderful feeling. People are cheering for you. Itís a dream come true."

When Zeck knocked in the four-footer for the last shot of the day, he embraced Fontaine.  After 1 top-10 finishes at the GNC, the sinewy 26 year old can finally call himself a champion.

"I can get used to it, thatís for sure," said Zeck. "There are a lot of great players out there who havenít won the GNC, and itís an injustice to them."

Added Lockhart: "I guess Iím happy and sad. Obviously today was disappointing, but it proved to myself that my golf game is good enough to handle the pressure and handle the situation."

As he entered the parking lot before his round, Zeck looked like a cool customer. He had awakened at 7 a.m., yet realized he had an awful lot of time to kill. The nerves had been with him like an unwanted uncle. Kirby Keks, who finished 425, walked by on the putting green and said, "Good luck today, Z-Man." It was like turning the key in an ignition. Zeck realized at that point he needed to get off to a good start to expunge the anxiety.

And that he did.

After parring the opening hole, Zeck was presented with his first test on No. 4, a par-4. Caught in the right rough just outside of a greenside bunker, his 40-foot chip nicked the front-left flagstick and scooted 20 feet to the back apron.

Zeck, who learned to putt cross-handed at age 7, had a gorgeous par-save by nailing the putt to three quick fist pumps.

Lockhart had a chance to slice off a stroke on the 480-yard par-5 6th with a birdie. But Zeck wouldnít bend. Again caught in deep rough, he pitched out to 12 feet of the hole. On the ensuing putt, a putt that had about two feet of break, the ball crawled over a ridge, tilted and appeared to stop short. Until it fell in.

Zeck giggled with surprise.

"He just kept me at armís length all day," said Lockhart, who was little-known by the young GNC field until this week.

Said Zeck: "The early part of my day was the key part of the round. The second hole was huge in getting up and down."

The challenge from players trailing Zeck failed to materialize, and Zeck was the only one in the top-10 to start the round with a red number at the turn.

"I didnít look at the leaderboard until the fifth or sixth hole," said Zeck.

On the back nine, it was a case of cat-and-mouse between Lockhart and Zeck.. Zeck bogeyed the 10th hole, but Lockhart couldnít take advantage. When Zeck bogeyed the 12th, Lockhart again couldnít capitalize, remaining four strokes back.

In a lighter moment, a topless woman from the gallery bolted across the green on the 11th hole just as Zeck was lining up a putt. She wanted to give him a flower, but he wanted none of it.

On the 375-yard, par-4 13th, which featured an elevated green and downwind to boot, Lockhart knocked in an eight-footer. Zeck would bogey. It would be the closest Lockhart would come to catching Zeck.

Asked at what point during the round he was resigned to being the runner-up, Lockhart said on No. 14, after he bogeyed the hole.

On the 17th hole -- a 125-yard par 3 that had a slight elevated green Ė that Zeck became unglued. "I was a mess at that point," he said.

Taking his pitching wedge, Zeck flew the green. The ball rested 45 feet away from the hole in deep rough before he chipped within 10 feet of the hole. He sank his putt for bogey.

By the time Zeck reached the 18th tee box, he was in a dream sequence. Thinking wood of some sort on the 360-yarder, he placed a three-iron in his hands. It was on his 150-yard approach that he would be overcome with emotion.

"I knew I could pretty much do what I wanted," he said.

And he did.