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Mouat captures Co-op Canadian Open men’s title to complete career Grand Slam

RED DEER, Alta. — Bruce Mouat and his Scottish squad secured the Co-op Canadian Open men’s championship with a 6-5 victory over Calgary’s Team Brendan Bottcher during Sunday’s final at Servus Arena.

It’s the sixth Grand Slam of Curling title for Mouat, third Grant Hardie, second Bobby Lammie and lead Hammy McMillan Jr.

Mouat also completed a career Grand Slam as the Canadian Open was the last of the four majors in the series left to check off on the list. He joins an exclusive club that includes Kevin Martin, Wayne Middaugh, Glenn Howard, Jeff Stoughton and Brad Gushue. Anna Hasselborg is the only skip who has accomplished the feat in the women’s division.

“This one’s pretty special,” Mouat said. “It’s the first time we’ve won the Canadian Open. We’ve not had a great run every time we come to the Canadian Open, so it’s nice to win this one and that checks off the four major ones that we started with.”

“It’s a pretty cool club to be a part of,” he added. “Some amazing athletes out there, some guys that I watched growing up and inspired me to take part in curling. I was glad that I was able to get into that club as well.”

Mouat, whose previous Grand Slam title win came at the 2022 Players’ Championship, struggled in the series during 2023 missing the playoffs four times. The team returned to that top form this week by posting a perfect 7-0 record to earn $42,000.

“It’s amazing, especially after what felt like a bit of a wait for it with such a good 2021-22 season,” Hardie said. “It’s brilliant to get back into the winner’s circle and hopefully we can just keep going for the rest of 2024.”

It’s been a tale of two seasons as Mouat has won three tour events plus gold at the European Championships despite their woes in the Grand Slams.

“As much as winning the tour events are amazing, everyone knows there are a lot more eyeballs on the Slams,” Hardie said. “It’s the top 15 teams, 16 teams and brilliant ice conditions. It means everything to be able to win it and as I said, hopefully, we can keep going and competing in a few more rather than missing playoffs like we did last year.”

Mouat’s unblemished record gave him the hammer to start. Bottcher jammed Mouat’s rock and it stuck around at the back of the 12-foot circle to allow Mouat to hit for two.

Bottcher matched with a hit for two in the second and forced Mouat to a single in the third.

It looked like Mouat was in a world of trouble in the fourth until he made a great draw to hide under cover. Bottcher attempted to redirect off of his guard and in to get to Mouat’s stone and possibly score three, however, he didn’t get enough of it as it stuck around at the back of the eight-foot circle for a steal.

“I think that’s kind of what we’ve come to expect from Bruce,” Hardie said. “He’s so cool under the pressure. Although we didn’t set him up really well in the fourth, that shot he made to get us out of it and thankfully got a bit of a break with Bottcher missing but sometimes that’s what you need to go and win a final.”

Mouat admitted he thinks he would have attempted the same risky shot that Bottcher tried to play.

“It’s those kinds of shots that win you finals, so if you make it then great for them,” he said. “Obviously, it was in our benefit this time. The important thing is that we’re making them play tough shots and that’s exactly what we did.”

Bottcher was forced to draw for a single in the fifth.

Mouat, who shot 95 per cent in the game, pulled off a great runback double in the sixth with his first skip stone then capitalized after Bottcher flashed his last to draw for a deuce and take a 6-3 lead.

Bottcher was held to one point again in the seventh as Mouat took the hammer and a two-point advantage into the final frame.

Although Bottcher sat two rocks tight together, Mouat just needed to blast one of them out.

“We started off really well, made a bit of a silly error in the second end just playing a little too heavy and missing the freeze,” Mouat said. “We made them play a really tough one in the fourth end. It’s the final, so there’s a bit of extra pressure and we made them play a really tough shot.

“We were fortunate enough that it didn’t come out for them and gave us the momentum again.”

Mouat made it to the final after defeating compatriots Team James Craik in the quarterfinals and Team Ross Whyte in the semifinals.

“You’re going to have to do that to win your nationals anyway,” Mouat said. “It’s nice to just have three Scottish teams in the quarterfinals. We’ve done that twice this season so far and I think that was the first time we’ve had that. I’m really proud of how all our squad teams are doing really well. We had [Cameron Bryce] here as well, he was in the Slams. We’re doing well.”

“Of course you hear all the noise and stuff there,” Hardie added. “There’s no doubt Team Whyte and Team Craik are getting a lot better. It’s good competition for us. They’re going to keep pushing us all and I’m sure we will be pushing them on as well. The Scottish championships in two weeks should be really interesting and again we’re going to have to play at a similar level to win that.”

Bottcher, third Marc Kennedy, second Brett Gallant and lead Ben Hebert finished the week with a 5-2 record and collected $30,000.