BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Mark Gardiner picked the perfect time to notch his first career playoff win.
“Hopefully my streak is starting anew,” Gardiner joked after winning the Southern Illinois Golf Association Championship.
It came after five extra holes Sunday at Mt. Vernon's Green Hills Golf Club.
“This weekend, I just had a little more drive in me, especially this round here,” Gardiner said. “I was really calm, and just managed to stay away from bogeys.
“I'm very happy with this, thrilled.”
Three players finished tied with a 138 after Sunday's second round of the championship. Gardiner of Mascoutah along with Justin Fetcho and Bryan Warren advanced to the playoff with Gardiner emerging and claiming the victory after five holes.
“This is my fourth tournament in the last 11 days. Twelve tournament rounds in the last 11 days, so it's nice to finish the 12th round with a win,” Gardiner said. “I'm very happy.”
Three-time champion and SIGA Hall of Famer Tom Portner of Mt. Vernon finished with a 148 and 17th overall. Brandon Bullard and Blaze Ellis finished in the top 10. Bullard ended with a 143, five shots behind the leaders. Ellis carded a 145.
The course absorbed about five inches of rain between Saturday's opening round and Sunday's final holes. Gardiner said the course held up well despite the adverse weather.
“It played fine,” Gardiner said. “There was a couple mud shots, but that's expected. (The) greens were fine. Really the course was in really great shape. We had carts in the fairways. I didn't expect that.”
The SIGA Championship dates back to 1922 and the trophy is named after Mt. Vernon's Pursie Pipes, who won the title nine times from 1948 to 1984.
“I didn't know that trophy was named after him and here he comes out wearing his Adidas, his shades, his hat, his golf shirt, and he was just plugging drivers right down the driving range,” Gardiner said.
Other division winners were: Murphy Hart (Senior Men) and Kolton Pavloff (Junior Boys).