Shaun Zealand of Victoria blasts from a bunker at the ninth green Saturday

Shaun Zealand of Victoria blasts from a bunker at the ninth green Saturday

Black, Zealand snare low-gross titles in Open

SEVEN HILLS-One stroke separates top pro, amateur in annual men's championship tourney.

SEVEN HILLS—It was no surprise that club pro Kevin Black posted the low gross score in the annual Men’s Open championship at Seven Hills Golf & Country Club last weekend.

More surprising, perhaps, was the slender, one-stroke margin he held after 36 holes over Shaun Zealand, who claimed his first amateur low-gross championship with a two-under-par 138.

“I was just trying to keep up with Kevin,” joked Zealand, who was partnered throughout the weekend with Black and family members Brad Zealand and Mark Hutchinson, Shaun’s brother and brother-in-law, respectively.

And for 17 holes, he did better than that, carrying a one-stroke edge over Black into the final hole of Saturday’s first round. That’s when Black, who flew the pin on his approach to the par-5 ninth, recovered with a 75-foot, downhill eagle putt from the apron at the back of the green.

That shot nullified a fine recovery from Zealand, who made a nice pitch out after landing in a greenside bunker on his approach to the hole.

Zealand punched out of the sand to within five feet and dropped a birdie putt to match Black with a 69 for the day, one stroke ahead of the 70 shot by Port Alice golfer and former champ Rory Bondue.

Black carried the momentum from the long eagle putt into Sunday’s final round, where he shot a tourney-best 68 to finish at 137 and edge Zealand, who repeated his 69 to close out a consistent weekend of play.

“I managed to keep it in play most of the time,” Zealand said. “I could have putted better, but … .”

Cory McIntosh and Alex Webber finished in a third-place tie at 142, while Bondue shot a 73 Sunday to close at 143.

The low-net title went to Port Hardy’s Rob Martyn at 127, comfortably ahead of runner-up Kenn Oliver at 133. Bob Edwards was third with a 134.

“It went well,” Black said of the tourney. “We couldn’t have gotten better weather. Our small group of course workers and kitchen staff worked hard all weekend, and our volunteers did a great job.”

The open drew 54 entrants for two days of sun-drenched play. With late-summer conditions expected to prevail for the foreseeable future, Black said the course should continue to play well for weeks to come.

The restaurant remains open Wed.-Sun., from noon to 7 p.m. For info, call the club at 250-949-9818.