OAKVILLE, Ont. — Welcome to the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, Team Ross Whyte.
The Scottish squad, making their series debut this week, weathered the storm in the C side to qualify for the Masters playoffs at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.
Team Whyte stunned Switzerland’s Team Peter de Cruz 5-4 during Draw 16 Friday evening to claim one of the final three spots in the men’s quarterfinals.
Whyte held the hammer in the eighth and led by one, but the 23-year-old skip was unable to chip out a perfect freeze made by Team de Cruz fourth Benoit Schwarz and gave up the tying single point to force an extra end.
The hammer remained in Whyte’s control though. Schwarz was still sharp on the draw coming around to bite the side of the button and lie buried, however, Whyte was able to throw down the other half of the sheet to bump one of his own stones and secure the winning shot rock.
Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe and Team Yuta Matsumura from Japan also qualified through the C finals. Koe hammered Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen 6-2 in only five ends and Matsumura got past Winnipeg’s Team Jason Gunnlaugson 5-2.
Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat and Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., wrapped up their preliminary runs a day early going 3-0 through the A side to take the top two playoff seeds.
Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Team Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton and Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin all qualified earlier Friday through the B side with 3-1 records. Edin edged Koe 6-4, Jacobs clipped Gunnlaugson 5-4 and Bottcher beat Whyte 6-4 during Draw 14.
Mouat will meet Whyte, Gushue goes up against Matsumura, Jacobs plays Koe and Bottcher clashes with Edin in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
It’ll be learner versus master as Whyte has served as the alternate on Mouat’s squad and will re-join them at the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
The Masters continues with Draw 17 and the women’s C finals Saturday at 8 a.m. ET. Broadcast coverage resumes with around the rings coverage of the men’s quarterfinals at Noon ET on Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
TRIPLE KNOCKOUT EXPLAINED
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.
NO TICK ZONE
Teams cannot tick guards off of the centre line while the five-rock, free guard zone is in effect during the eighth and extra ends only.
The Masters is the first of five events on the 2021-22 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling schedule and features 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world. … A combined $300,000 prize purse is up for grabs with the winning teams earning $33,000 plus berths into the season-ending KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup. … Triple knockout play runs through to Saturday morning. The quarterfinals and semifinals are also Saturday with both finals set for Sunday. … Tickets are available at masters.goigniter.com.