THE GEMS NEWTON CUP 2007
JUNE 22 - 24, 2006
THE RADIUM RESORT, RADIUM, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Club Z – Team Preview 2007
Tough defeat in 2006 Finals spurs Club Z forward
By Captain Trevor Zeck
The bad taste lingers in Trevor Zeck’s mouth almost a year later. “I totally disgraced myself, and embarrassed our team.” Zeck looks wistfully out the window of his villa high above central Luxembourg, remembering his pig-like double bogey on the 18th hole of his match in last year’s Gems Newton Cup finals. Coming to the 18th tee all square with the tenacious Kevin Miller, Zeck watched as Miller fanned a weak tee ball into the right trees. Despite the door being open, and despite pumping his drive within 75 yards of the green, Zeck could not capitalize. Such was the fate of Club Z on the final Sunday of GNC 2006. Captain Zeck, stellar rookie Tony Pozdin, and stalwart Bob Fitzmartyn all lost their singles matches 1-down on Sunday, gifting Team Gems the championship. “Not this year,” says Zeck as he downs a sixth shot of Jagermeister. “Not this year.”
Club Z’s road to the 2006 Finals provided the most dramatic moments ever witnessed in the storied history of the GNC. Coming off a scintillating win in 2005, Club Z opened the 2006 championship in wretched fashion, losing all three of their opening best-ball matches. “Not really unexpected,” Zeck says in his usual pre-tournament interview. “We opened against Team Gems, and everyone knows they are the team with the ‘14 handicappers’ most likely to break 80.” He says this resignedly, the disdain dripping from each word. However, showing the fortitude that brought them the 2005 title, Club Z stormed back to make an unprecedented sweep of all six points from its next two sessions, including a dominating performance on Saturday morning against Team Newton. “It’s always sweet, and surprisingly easy, to beat the Newtons,” says Zeck. “The boys really showed what Club Z was made of – six wins in a row against GNC competition is SBT. Strictly Big Time.”
A weak Saturday afternoon session set up the dramatic playoff between Fitzmartyn and Loren Brown – a playoff that has spawned three books, a TV movie, and the documentary that opened the recent Sundance Film Festival. “I have nothing to say about the playoff. Bobby’s birdie will live forever. I was just happy to be there.”
Despite last year’s near miss, Club Z comes into 2007 with a different lineup. Absent in 2007 will be Travis “Rowdy” Rowden, one of the original Club Z players, and a man who played spectacularly in 2006 winning four of five available points, including the only Club Z point in the finals. On this development Zeck said, “Rowdy was huge for us last year, and his loss will certainly be felt. That said; how you can you turn down the chance to go to Top Gun fighter pilot training? He’s still a member of Club Z as far as I’m concerned. And always will be.”
Replacing Rowden is untested Ottawa native Brian McGregor. A mystery to GNC participants, the addition of McGregor has been questioned – anonymously – by some people close to the tournament. “He’ll be fine,” says Captain Zeck. “Brian will play with the fire of a man with nothing to lose. Which is kind of true, given that he’s getting married in August. The GNC is his last stand, so to speak.”
Returning will be last year’s hero Bob Fitzmartyn, as well as veterans Shawn Eltom and Colin “Taxman” Tough. Club Z is rounded out by second year man Tony Pozdin, and captained by Trevor Zeck.
Club Z player profiles
Trevor Zeck (Captain)
Zeck will be looking to reassert himself after an uncharacteristic collapse at the end of GNC 2006. Sources close to the team have expressed some concern about Zeck’s lack of play, and practice, in the lead up to this year’s tournament, citing his decision to spend the bulk of the spring meeting with Europe’s political elite instead of working on his game. Still, Zeck always seems to bring his usual consistent play to the Radium Resort. “Radium is like Z’s Field of Dreams,” says one GNC rival. “He knows how to play when the time comes.”
Following last year’s heroics, Fitzmartyn had a tumultuous year, capped by the birth of his first child, a son. Understandably, the birth, combined with the whirlwind of activity and incessant demands which followed ‘the birdie heard ‘round the world’ has left some questioning Bob’s ability to meet the elevated expectations of 2007. However, those counting on anything but superb play from Fitzmartyn are likely to be disappointed. Always Club Z’s fiercest competitor, Bob followed-up his playoff performance with a gutsy match against eventual MVP Gerry Imbery that went the distance. Look for Bobby to dominate in 2007.
Colin “Taxman” Tough
Like all of Club Z, Taxman had a somewhat inconsistent GNC in 2006. While he fired a GNC career best 78, it was book ended by a pair of 86s, as Taxman joined all teammates but Rowden in posting a 2-3 record. He has, however, shown consistent improvement over the years, and has become a reliable member of Club Z. Reports out of Altadore are that Tough has been spending more hours on the range than on the course this spring. This bodes well for 2007; a steady, cerebral player already, Taxman’s practice regimen should pay dividends when the GNC opens June 21.
Another of the original members of Club Z, Eltom’s contributions to the team’s success range far beyond his mere on-course presence. His opening rounds of 93 and 90 in GNC 2006 evidence the evolution of Ellers’ game, but his consistent leadership and contributions to Club spirit are unquantifiable. Captain Trevor Zeck received several inquiries about Eltom’s availability in the offseason trade market, and it is testament to Shawn’s value that each request was met with a response of “not available, at any price.” All three of Eltom’s losses in 2006 finished 1-down – he was close in every match, and with his natural ruggedness (in play and looks), that record should reverse in 2007.
In his first GNC, Pozdin impressed all participants with his tenacity, and competitiveness. Witnesses of his play in the finals, coming back from four-down over the last nine holes to take his match to the 18th green, were moved my Tony’s fortitude, and ability to virtually will his ball into the hole. A consistent player and wise locker room (and bar room) presence, Pozdin has also added a touch of gentlemanly class to Club Z. With a first GNC under his belt, there is little doubt that Tony will be a strong force for Club Z, and fearsome opponent for the rest of the field, in 2007.
A rookie in 2007, McGregor will face the usual travails of all GNC first timers. However, observers of the eastern Ontario golf scene note his extreme practice and play regimen (“the guy’s an animal”), and willingness to put his money on the line against more experienced players as evidence of McGregor’s ability to compete in the pressure-cooker that is the GNC. A born competitor, Brian will fight until the last putt is holed, and can be counted on to contribute to Club Z’s traditional beer drinking bonhomie. Having maintained a singular focus on the GNC since being named to Club Z, it would be foolish of any opponent to underrate this rookie.