Martin doubles up Gushue to win Players’ Championship

March 27, 2005, 8:00 PM

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Kevin Martin capped a record-breaking year winning the Players’ Championship with a 6-3 victory over hometown hero Brad Gushue in Sunday’s final.

The Edmonton-based foursome of Martin, third Don Walchuk, second Carter Rycroft and lead Don Bartlett won three of the four Grand Slam of Curling titles this season, claiming the BDO Classic in November and the Canadian Open in January. Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton took home the Masters to deny the sweep.

Team Martin, the 2002 Olympic silver medallists, earned $50,000 with their Players’ Championship victory.

“We accomplished what we set out to do and we accomplished some other things as well,” Martin said in a WCT release. “The Olympic Trials spot was No. 1 and everything else is just super.”

“We’ll never play that much in a season again, never,” Martin added in the release. “We had to, because of the Trials system. Now we’ll just work hard in the gym all summer and play a just a few spiels leading up to the Trials so we don’t get burned out like we did this year.”

Martin broke a 2-2 tie with a three-ender in the sixth and never looked back. Gushue blanked the seventh but gave up a steal of one in the eighth, rolling too far on a hit, as Martin extended his lead 6-2. The teams shook hands after Gushue managed just a single in the ninth.

It was a miracle run for the 13th ranked Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Mike Adam and lead Jamie Korabas they reached their first career Grand Slam final on home ice.

“It was the coolest experience,” Gushue said in the release. “We just wanted to play well after a poor showing at the Canada Cup and the Brier. Win or lose this game, we knew we’d done that.

“It was a one-shot game and I thought we played well. If my last rock in six curls an inch more, we’re probably still playing.”

Gushue, who cashed in $30,000, stunned Glenn Howard 7-6 in the semifinals with a steal in the 10th end. Martin eliminated Glen Despins 8-5 in the other semifinal.

Howard and Despins earned $15,000 each.

The 24-year-old Gushue was feeling under the weather during his 9-8 quarterfinal win over Ralph Stoeckli of Switzerland.

“To be honest, I’m not sure what it is I’ve got,” Gushue said. “It’s a bit of everything: stomach, head, sore throat, stuffed up. Luckily I felt a bit better tonight than I did last night, but I’m nowhere near 100 per cent.

“It was obviously a battle … it’s still coming out of me, whatever it is.”