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Glencoe Invitational: Cockerill puts on a show

BY JOHN DOWN

CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA (June 25, 2011) -- Imagine this.

You’re 19 years old and you’re playing in one of Canada’s top amateur golf tournaments for the first time. There’s a 40-minute burst of heavy rain, the wind starts to howl and the temperature dips to barely 10C to add to the formidable challenge of the 7,147 yards of Glen Forest.

But Aaron Cockerill from the Manitoba town of Stony Mountain is oblivious to it all on a wild weather Friday.

The 2010 Manitoba junior champion, who went through the front nine in one-over-par 37, eagles the par 4 10th and, three holes later, sinks his tee shot at the 13th. There’s a tap-in birdie at the par 4, 15th but a double bogey at the par 3, 17th en route to a second-round, two-under 70.

Just like that, the kid is right in the thick of the Kinnear Glencoe Invitational.

“It’s awesome,” said the 10th-place finisher in last year’s Canadian Amateur of his first trip to Calgary. “It’s a blast. I’ve had buddies who played in this and they had nothing but good things to say about it so I was excited to come here and it’s going well.”

Well? That’s a bit of an understatement.

Cockerill, who opened with a par 72 Thursday, suddenly finds himself in a three-way tie for second place and just one shot back of pace-setting Garrett Rank of Elmira, Ont. Rank tacked a 73 onto his first-day leading 68 to sit at 141.

Also at 142 with Cockerill are Canadian national team member Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., and Jesse Skelton of Winnipeg. Alone at 143 is Stephane Dubois of Brantford, Ont. Low Albertans are former Alberta Amateur champion Scott Stiles of Bearspaw, Neil Thomas of Edmonton and Daniel Pow of the host club, all at 146.

Cockerill’s run on the back nine started when he, like most in the elite field of 69, elected to take a run at the 10th green from the teebox. The ball came up 20 yards short and he chipped in at the 363-yard offering.

Then came the lucky 13th and a nasty pin offering on the right back shelf of the green.

“I was actually going to hit it left but my caddy Mark (club member Mark Evernden) talked me into going at it. The ball landed five feet short and one-hopped in. Just a nice 9-iron. After that I knocked it stiff at 15 for birdie, parred the two par 5s, which shouldn’t have happened, and hit the water at 17 when the wind got a little gusty.

“All in all a decent round.”

It was Cockerill’s fourth career ace but his first in competition. Not surprisingly, his expectations have changed heading into today.

“My game’s in really good shape,” said the student at Texas A&M Commerce near Dallas. “You want to set your goal to win . . . now it’s looking kind of realistic. I just need to get a good round going (today).”

THIS AND THAT: Cockerill, Dubois and Jack Wesche of Country Hills had the low rounds of a tough day at 70 . . . Defending champion Mitch Evanecz of Red Deer, who won the last two, had a 75 to fall out of the top 10 at 147 . . . Low Alberta scorer will join Evanecz and Andrew Funk of Edmonton on this year’s team for the Pacific Coast Amateur.

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