Muirhead tops Wrana to kick off Players’ Championship
TORONTO — Reigning Olympic champion Eve Muirhead and her Scotland squad picked up where they left off from the Beijing Winter Games.
Playing in their first game since capturing gold in February, Team Muirhead scored a 9-5 victory over Sweden’s Team Isabella Wranå during the opening draw of the Players’ Championship Tuesday morning at Mattamy Athletic Centre.
“It’s always nice to start off with a win, isn’t it?” Muirhead said. “Our last game as a team was the Olympic final, so it’s nice to keep that winning streak going. It’s also nice to be back at the Slams because we weren’t able to play in the ones during the season. I love it here.”
It’s the first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event for Team Muirhead since last year’s Princess Auto Players’ Championship, which was held in a bubble concept in Calgary without fans in the stands. Muirhead, who has won the Players’ Championship three times in Toronto, said it’s a “little bit of a bonus” to have a crowd on hand once again.
“To play in front of fans is also really great because we haven’t done that much,” Muirhead said. “There were a few at the Olympics but not many.
“There are lots of great memories in this building. It’s always nice to come back to Toronto and playing in front of fans makes it even better.”
Already up by a point at the break, Muirhead scored four points in the fifth end to establish a 7-2 lead.
Wranå came right back with a strong sixth end and tapped to score three. Muirhead remained in charge with an open hit for a deuce in the seventh and ran Wranå out of rocks in the eighth.
Elsewhere in the opening draw, Edmonton’s Laura Walker downed Tabitha Peterson of the United States 8-3. After Peterson scored a deuce in the first, Walker jumped ahead with three in the second and never looked back stealing back-to-back singles in the third and fourth. After Peterson settled for a single in five, Walker matched with one in six and stole two more points in seven to bring out handshakes.
Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., stole three points in the fourth end during a 7-3 victory over South Korea’s Un-Chi Gim and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones held off Regina’s Chelsea Carey 6-4.
The Princess Auto Players’ Championship features a triple knockout preliminary round.
The triple knockout consists of three brackets: A, B and C. Teams must win three games in order to qualify for the playoffs. Each loss drops a team to a lower bracket until they lose three games and are out of the tournament. Two A teams (3-0 records), three B teams (3-1 records) and three C teams (3-2 records) advance to the quarterfinals.
The Princess Auto Players’ Championship resumes with Draw 2 at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Broadcast coverage of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship begins Thursday at Noon ET / 9 a.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
NO TICK ZONE
Teams cannot tick guards off of the centre line while the five-rock, free guard zone is in effect during all ends. Following an infraction of the rule, the non-offending team may decide to leave the situation as is.
The Princess Auto Players’ Championship is the third event of the 2021-22 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world with a combined $350,000 prize purse. Winning teams earn $35,000. … The Pinty’s Cup will also be awarded to the season champions following the conclusion of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship. Winners of the Pinty’s Cup receive $50,000 bonuses. … Tickets are available at thegrandslamofcurling.com/tickets.