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Jacobs beats Bottcher to win 4th GSOC title at Tour Challenge

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Brad Jacobs was finally able to vent 18th months worth of frustration.

Jacobs and his crew from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., snapped their drought by capturing their fourth career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title after outlasting Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher 6-5 in Sunday’s Tour Challenge Tier 1 men’s final.

Team Jacobs cashed in $20,000 of the $100,000 Tier 1 men’s purse, 12 Pinty’s Cup points and a spot in the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup.

Jacobs, third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden also recovered from a 0-4 run two weeks ago at the Canadian Beef Masters finishing here with a 6-1 record. Their lone loss came against Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe in their final round-robin game.

“We played great all week,” said Jacobs, whose previous GSOC title win came at the Humpty’s Champions Cup in April 2017. “To be able to finish this off and have the patience that we had, especially after playing that last end after a little bit of a sloppy seventh, it feels great to close the deal.

“It’s been a long time for our team since we’ve won anything and winning never gets old. It’s an unbelievable feeling and it’s just great to feel this way once again and hopefully, we can grab a few more of these this season.”

Jacobs said it was unbelievable to not only capture the title but to do so among his Northern Ontario fans at the sold-out Tournament Centre.

“The fans were great all week and you saw how many volunteers and people that stepped and help put this event together,” he said. “To do this in Northern Ontario, we’re Northern Ontario boys, it means a lot to us and hopefully, everybody enjoyed the show. That’s what we’re here to do, we’re here to entertain and do special things for Northern Ontario. All around, a great week.”

Even though Bottcher opened with the hammer, it was a textbook start for Jacobs. The 2014 Olympic gold medallist limited Bottcher to singles in the second and fourth ends while scoring deuces in three and five to build a 4-2 advantage.

The plot thickened down the stretch with Bottcher taking two in the sixth to tie it and putting the pressure on in the seventh by capitalizing on some Team Jacobs mistakes. With Bottcher’s shot rock protected and no chance to score two himself, Jacobs threw his last stone away to concede a point — and the lead — but retain the all-important hammer for the decisive eighth end.

A jacked-up Jacobs wanted to put on a show for his Northern Ontario fans and certainly delighted by hitting to score two for the win.

“It was awesome,” Jacobs said. “It was a great celebration for us. I think you saw about 18 months of frustration just kind of come out and to win like that is how you want to win a game.”

First-time GSOC event finalists Bottcher, third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin collected $15,000 and nine Pinty’s Cup points. Team Bottcher finished 5-2 in the Tour Challenge, coincidentally also losing to Jacobs during their first game of pool play Wednesday giving up a steal in eight to fall 5-4.

Meanwhile, Saskatoon’s Team Kirk Muyres downed Team Scott McDonald of Kingston, Ont., 8-3 to capture the Tour Challenge Tier 2 men’s title. Team Muyres take home $10,000 plus a promotion to the 2019 Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask., with airfare gas money and accommodation provided.

“This one’s marked on the calendar,” Muyres said. “We want to play a Slam in Saskatchewan any time we can and it’s only about an hour from home. To get to play one there is awesome. We obviously can’t wait and hopefully, we can put on a good show there.”

It’s the first year for the new club with Muyres, who previously played for Steve Laycock, making the move up to skip alongside his brother, Dallan Muyres, at lead and twins Kevin and Daniel Marsh at third and second, respectively. Captain Kirk has taken to skip duties like a fish to water with the team running the table here posting a perfect 7-0 record.

“It’s so good. We had a slow start and we were building and building,” Kirk said. “It’s my first year skipping, so it’s so tough to know if it was going to come together for us. The last few weeks it just start to and then today we just put on a dominating performance. It’s pretty nice to have these guys stick by me when I was learning to skip and now I’ve kind of got there but we can always get better from here.”

Earlier, Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan earned their eighth title in the GSOC by doubling up on Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., 8-4 in the Tier 1 women’s final. Team Elena Stern of Switzerland edged Japan’s Team Sayaka Yoshimura 6-5 for the Tier 2 women’s title.

The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season continues with the Boost National running Dec. 11-16 in Conception Bay South, N.L.