Martin caps career winning Players’ Championship

April 20, 2014, 6:44 PM

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Curling legend Kevin Martin is leaving the sport at the top of the mountain.

Martin previously announced he would retire after the Players’ Championship and finished his career on a high note Sunday, defeating Brad Jacobs 4-3 in the men’s final to capture one final Grand Slam of Curling title.

The Edmonton native is the all-time Grand Slam wins leader with 18 titles, including eight Players’ championships.

It came down to, fittingly enough, Martin’s last shot ever. Martin held a two-point lead but was facing three and needed a vintage Martin maneuver — an out-turn draw — to pull it off. He didn’t get shot rock but only gave up a steal of one that preserved the victory.

Martin said he was more focused on winning the game and the title for his team rather the personal moment.

“If I’m a little heavy and it slides out of the house, it’s my last shot and we don’t win,” Martin said. “So it was more important to focus on staying in the moment but over the last few years, being an Olympian and things, it teaches you to do that, stay focused on the job at hand and when it works out then you can breathe and let it go.”

Among Martin’s many accolades include four Brier titles, a world championship in 2008 and representing Canada twice at the Olympics winning gold in the 2010 Vancouver Games and silver in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Martin had been in a bit of a Slam drought with his previous title in 2011, coincidentally at that season’s Players’ Championship. He said winning No. 18 was as much pressure as anything.

“Eighteen Slams is just so difficult,” Martin said. “I know when (Jack) Nicklaus did it in golf he was 46 which is very difficult and it took me an extra year. Geez, I wanted that bad so it was a big day.”

Martin led 4-1 after four ends thanks to a pair of deuces and Jacobs struggled to find the equalizer. He blanked two ends before settling for a single in the seventh but gave up the hammer to Martin coming home.

Jacobs, who won the gold medal in February at the Sochi Olympics, was disappointed his team lost but thought it was neat that his team from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was Martin’s final opponent.

“Who would have thought it would be our team?” Jacobs said. “I definitely would have thought it would be (Glenn) Howard or (Jeff) Stoughton or someone like that but it’s something we’ll remember, for sure playing Martin the last game and he really wanted to win. … It was a really fun game.”

The 47-year-old Martin announced his retirement Friday night on Sportsnet and will now join the Grand Slam of Curling as a broadcast analyst and official spokesperson.

“I’m excited about it, it’s a new start,” Martin said. “I’ve done a little bit of the analyst stuff with NBC at the Olympics and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

“The neat part is for me, especially in the men’s division, I know them all. They’re all friends of mine so I know most of their wives, a lot of their kids and what they do outside of curling. It’s going to be so much fun.”