Ashley Chinner Wins 2021 Ontario Senior Men’s Championship

Ashley Chinner (Photo: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick.com)

If you gave Ashley Chinner the freedom to write a script about how he would win his first major Golf Ontario title, it’s unlikely that he could have come up with the one that played out today as he earned the Ontario Senior Men’s Championship title at the Loyalist Country Club in Bath, Ontario.

Chinner, a well-known presence in the Canadian golf scene but fairly new to the senior circuit, has been creeping up on this championship for the last few years. In 2019 he finished third. In 2020 he held the lead late at Taboo but ultimately finished second to Dave Bunker (Cherry Hill Club).

This year, it was Bunker who faltered slightly as Chinner surged, but the champion required the very last putt to seal the deal.

In fact, the winning ten-foot birdie the Coppinwood Golf member converted on the last hole represented the one and only time all week that he actually held the lead. The only time that really matters, for sure.

“I’m really happy to win this,” said a relieved and smiling Chinner after he signed his card for -12 (67-68-69) and celebrated with wife Stephanie, who walked every step on the sidelines.

The former touring professional was a model of patience in the final round. He started the day at -9 through 36 holes, four shots back of Bunker, a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame, but closed the gap early. Bunker three-putted the first and Chinner sank a birdie on #2 to close within two. The talented Rob Cowan made up the final trio but was unfortunately not a factor in the race for the title. He ultimately secured the bronze medal at -5.

By the time the group reached the the 8th hole, Bunker had re-established his original margin over Chinner.

It was on the 9th that things began to turn in Chinner’s favour. Bunker pulled his approach left into an unplayable lie and he had to sink a tough six-foot putt just to secure double bogey. An unexpected miss on a short putt for par on #10 by the leader allowed his pursuer to get within a stroke, a difference that would remain until the 15th hole.

It was in the closing four holes where the fairy-tale really begin the play out.

On the 15th hole Chinner appeared displeased with his stroke on his birdie putt but somehow it found the bottom of the cup to put him into a share of the lead. Both players toured 16 in par, and on 17, the drama really ramped up.

Bunker missed a birdie putt from 15 feet above the hole and Chinner failed to get his 40-yard approach on to the green. His third shot came up short of the hole, and his 5-foot putt for par seemed to stall on the edge of the cup, much like the Tiger putt on #16 at the 2005 Masters, and tumbled to the bottom after the greatest level of suspense.

“If that had stropped short, that was it right there. If that had not dropped, it was over,” he shared of the pivotal moment.

Final Hole Drama

As if heart rates were not racing enough within the chests of the players and the spectators, Bunker and Chinner did their best to entertain down the par 5 final hole.

With the leaders locked up at -11 each, Bunker’s tee shot wavered to the right and he was already headed to his bag for a provisional when a volunteer waved a green flag to signal it was safe. Chinner blazed a drive with his trusty TaylorMade R1 driver down the left, leaving him in position to reach the green in two, and appeared to have the upper hand.

Bunker was masterful as he slashed a ball down the fairway to within 50 yards of the green for his second, and the stage was cleared for Chinner who had but an iron in his hand. Unfortunately he pulled it wayward and now it was his turn to wait for a voice ahead to give him the all-clear that it had been found. Thankfully it was and the spotlight was back on him as Bunker waited on the green, some 40 feet from the hole, with a birdie putt.

“I got away with hit,” said Chinner of his poor second shot at the last. “It was sitting perfectly over there.”

That showed as the former PGA Championship of Canada winner pitched to ten feet from the penalty area. From there, with a small crowd of spectators waiting silently, he found the centre of the cup to both take the lead and the title all at once.

With one championship secured the new champion says he is eager for more.

“This was big for me. Now I’m looking forward to the Canadians next week. We’ve got a bunch of Americans coming and all the great players from the other provinces. I can’t wait to tee it up again.”

Final Leaderboard

Flagstick Digest delivers the most current and informative golf content directly to your inbox. Whether looking for the latest from the Tours, In-depth Interviews, Product Analysis or just about anything golf...WE DELIVER!