Martin doubles up Gushue to win Players’ Championship

March 27, 2005, 8:00 PM

ST. JOHN’S — 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 team of Martin, Don Walchuk, Carter Rycroft and Newfoundland native 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 claimed the Masters to deny the sweep.

Team Martin earned $50,000 to finish the season with $165,250 in sanctioned World Curling Tour winnings plus a grand total of $311,750 counting TV skins games.

“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.”

Martin broke a 2-2 tie wide open scoring three in the sixth end. 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 to 6-2.

Gushue managed just a single point in the ninth and the two rinks shook hands.

The grind of the season had clearly set in with Martin feeling burned out.

“We’ll never play that much in a season again, never,” Martin said. “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.”

It was a miracle run for the 13th ranked Gushue — backed by Mark Nichols, Mike Adam and Jamie Korab — who reached a Grand Slam final for the first time in his career.

“It was the coolest experience,” said Gushue, who took home $30,000. “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 stunned Glenn Howard in the semifinals upsetting the No. 3 ranked team from Coldwater, Ont., 7-6 with a steal in the 10th end. Howard was frustrated with the result.

“I felt we outcurled them,” Howard said. “Bottom line, I should have made my last shot and we should have won.”

Howard also misfired on his last shots at the Canadian Open semifinals and Ontario Tankard final this season and added: “I’m getting sick and tired of missing my last shot.”

Martin dispatched sponsor exemption Glen Despins of Strongfield, Sask., 8-5 in the other semifinal. Howard and Despins earned $15,000 each.

Gushue was feeling under the weather during his quarterfinal match against Ralph Stoeckli of Switzerland and toughed it out for a 9-8 victory.

“To be honest, I’m not sure what it is I’ve got,” Gushue said following the quarterfinals. “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 percent.

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