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Fleury fearless in securing 1st Grand Slam title at Masters

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Tracy Fleury wasn’t nervous playing for a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title in her backyard.

Instead, the roaring crowd for the Sudbury skip fired her up shooting a game-leading 91 percent in her pursuit of the Masters women’s title.

Fleury was a tour de force fending off Japan’s Sayaka Yoshimura 7-5 Sunday and sending the fans at Memorial Gardens into a frenzy.

“I definitely felt the crowd support and had a lot of family and friends out there,” Fleury said. “I think that helped us.”

“I’d said if anything it pumped me up a little bit. It wasn’t a distraction.”

No moment best exemplified that than the last shot of the game with Fleury holding the all-important hammer advantage and up by one. Yoshimura sat two counters apart in the eight-foot circle, Fleury opted for a hit and just when it looked like it wasn’t going to make it, her shooter connected and rolled for the clutch double.

Although Fleury is famous for her great draw game, with the ice sitting for a little bit, hitting worked out better in that situation.

“They took quite a long time to decide where to place their final stone, so you never know with the paths and stuff,” Fleury explained. “A nose hit was good or a little roll. It seemed like the safer call.”

Although it’s Fleury’s first Grand Slam, it’s the second major for her teammates of third Selena Njegovan, second Liz Fyfe and lead Kristin MacCuish. The Manitoba-based trio captured the 2016 BOOST National in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., with skip Kerri Einarson.

“It feels amazing,” Fleury said. “It was tough being so close in the past a couple of times. To finally pull it off it really means a lot.”

Team Fleury cashed in $35,000, 12 Pinty’s Cup points and a spot in the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup.

“It was one of our goals at the beginning of the season,” Fyfe said. “We were like we want to win a Slam, we know we can and to win the first one is amazing.”

Fleury was dialled in from the start securing hammer to open the match and converting to draw for a deuce in the first.

“That was huge for us,” Fleury said. “We tend to do quite well when we start the game with hammer. It’s such an important part of the game. I didn’t think my shot was good enough to get the hammer but we got away with it.”

Yoshimura matched in the second but misfired a hit in the third, just nudging over the opposing stone, allowing Fleury to hit for another deuce.

Fleury made an outstanding come-around draw to the button with her first skip stone in the fourth end that held up for a single steal and a 5-2 lead at the break as Yoshimura was unable to outcount it having to make a high-pressure draw against three.

“I’d say the steal in four, that was the momentum shift,” Fleury said. “We put some pressure on them.”

Fyfe added: “She’s just an all-star. We know if she’s in that mode, we just let her do her thing and we’re going to be good.”

Team Fleury finished the week with a 6-1 record with the lone blemish to their mark coming against Yoshimura during pool play Thursday.

Up next is the men’s final between Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., and Regina’s Team Matt Dunstone. Watch at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific or stream online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).