Jules Owchar, Kevin Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert celebrate after winning the 2010 Players' Championship (Photo: Anil Mungal).

Kevin Martin edges Brad Gushue in extra end to win Players’ Championship

April 18, 2010, 6:30 PM

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. — Kevin Martin capped a sensational season edging Brad Gushue 8-7 in an extra end to win the Players’ Championship during Sunday’s battle between Olympic gold medallists.

Martin, third John Morris, second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert earned $25,000 for the win, 45.000 Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) points, and a bonus $50,000 for taking home the Capital One Cup, awarded the Grand Slam of Curling overall points leader.

“The Capital One Cup is very similar to the Players’ Championship,” Martin said. “It’s the best curlers in the world banging heads for a whole year. If you come out ahead of that group, you’ve done very well. It’s a very proud thing for an athlete, playing against the very best, to come out on top. That’s why everybody loves the Slams so much.”

The Edmonton-based Team Martin finished the 2009-10 season on a 32-game winning streak running through the Canadian Open, the Vancouver Winter Olympics, the Bear Mountain Arena Classic and now the Players’ Championship. Martin’s previous defeat came at the National to world champion Kevin Koe in January.

Martin broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth end with an open draw for two. Gushue, the 2006 Olympic gold medallist, capitalized on a Morris miss to score three in the sixth and claim a one-point lead with two ends to play.

“We made some good shots [that end],” said Gushue, who won his first career Grand Slam title this season at the National. “I thought Kevin made a bit of a mistake in trying to double on John’s. John didn’t throw it as good as he wanted and it gave us an opportunity for three.”

Gushue misfired on a double takeout attempt in the seventh and Martin jumped on the opportunity scoring an easy deuce to reclaim the lead 7-6. Gushue nailed a tricky double takeout and rolled his rock into the eight-foot circle for a point in the eighth to knot it up again and send the game into overtime.

Hebert made a pair of perfect tick shots to keep the laneway open and set the table for Martin’s open hit on his last to secure his record 15th Grand Slam championship.

“Our goal is to get 18 Grand Slams,” Martin said. “That is quite a mark to set. I think [golf's] Jack [Nicklaus] is the only guy to have ever done it and we’re at 15 now, the same as [tennis player Roger] Federer. So we’ve got a few yet to go. I’d love to get three. Four would be a bonus.”

The St. John’s team of Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Ryan Fry and lead Jamie Korab earned $16,000 and 30.000 CTRS points plus an additional $25,000 for finishing second in the Capital One Cup chase.

Korab will not return to the team next season with legendary skip Randy Ferbey joining the squad. The four-time world champion from Edmonton will play third with Nichols moving down to second and Fry to lead.

The 16-team triple knockout featured 15 Canadian teams and only one European squad, Sweden’s Niklas Edin. The past three seasons had seen only Canadian teams in the event as part of the Canadian Olympic curling trials process.

Both Martin and Gushue qualified for the playoffs through the A brackets.

Meanwhile, Cheryl Bernard captured the Players’ Championship women’s title Saturday defeating Crystal Webster 6-4 in an all-Calgary team final. Team Bernard also earned the women’s Capital One Cup.