Glenn Howard set the trend early Saturday in the Ford Hot Shots skills showdown at the Metro Centre.
Playing in the quarter-final round, the Ontario skip contributed a 26/30 performance, four points better than any other competitor, and gave an indication he’d be tough to keep out of the driver’s seat of the top-prize, a 2010 Ford Taurus SEL FWD.
And that indication proved to be correct.
Howard bounced back in the semi-finals to score within one point of Saskatoon’s Darrell McKee, who aced the last-rock double for a 24-23 edge.
But Howard prevailed 21-19 in the final and had it wrapped it up before he tossed his last-rock double, which he missed completely.
The win was the second straight for a member of the Ontario champs. Lead Craig Savill won the two-year lease on the car last year.
“I told Glenn before the start to do the same thing that I did and just black out,” quipped Savill. “I didn’t remember a thing.”
Savill still is driving his prize but hasn’t “picked up the boys yet” even though “we’ve driven in it a few times”.
Howard, who speculated he’d be dumping his Nissan Maxima in favour of “going to a domestic car now”, added “it’s a team sport so my teammates will be getting some sort of cut of this for sure”.
Howard said the team made a “little financial arrangement and Craig kept the car last year”.
“Hey, it’s a beautiful-looking car and it’s a fantastic event and it’s obviously great for the players to go out and throw some rocks and make some quality shots,” said Howard. “It’s a real boost to this competition. It’s a great vehicle for this. Kudos to Ford for their support.”
He termed his last-rock miscue “a good time to throw a bad one”.
Told that Scotties Hot Shots winner Amber Holland of Regina said she’d be the team’s designated driver for next season, Howard, who lives in Midland, guffawed.
“I definitely won’t be driving around Ontario picking up the boys for every event,” he said. “Five-and-a-half hours to pick up Craig Savill (lives in Ottawa)? Not happening.”
Third Richard Hart lives in Pickering and second Brent Laing resides in Horseshoe Valley, near Barrie.
The pre-event shotmaking competition requires curlers to execute six shots: Hit-and-stay, draw-the-button, draw-the-port, raise, hit-and-roll and double-takeout. Each shot is awarded points on a scale from 0-5, rating the success of each.
All 48 Brier starters began the competition Friday, whittling the field to eight for Saturday’s action.
McKee won $2,000 second prize while Nova Scotia skip Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc won $1,000 for third place, resulting from his draw shot to the button which was an improvement on that of Manitoba’s Rob Fowler.
Friday’s leader with a near-perfect 29/30 score, Fowler matched the Bluenoser at 21 points in the semi.
In quarters, McKee, Fitzner-LeBlanc and Fowler all scored 22 points, Ryan Harnden of Northern Ontario accumulated 21,
Manitoba skip Jeff Stoughton notched 19, Newfoundland’s Ryan Fry scored 17 and New Brunswick skip James Grattan checked in at 14.
Manitoba lead Steve Gould has twice won the car and ranks as the only winner to go on to win the Brier in the same year (1999).
Other past winners at the Brier: Greg McAulay and Pat Ryan (B.C.), Don Bartlett, Randy Ferbey and John Morris (Alberta),
Steve Laycock (Saskatchewan), Mike Coulter (Northern Ontario), Ed Werenich (Ontario), Rick Perron, Jeff Lacey and Marc LeCocq (New Brunswick) and Mark Nichols (NL).
Official Results from the 2010 Tim Hortons Brier Ford Hot Shots Competition
FINAL – Total Points (out of a possible 30)
21 points – Glenn Howard, Ontario skip
19 points – Darrell McKee, Saskatchewan skip
Glenn Howard wins a two-year lease on a 2010 Ford Taurus SEL FWD, an approximate retail value in excess of $25,000, courtesy of Ford of Canada.
Second-place finisher Darrell McKee was given a cheque for $2,000.
24 points – Darrell McKee, Saskatchewan skip
23 points – Glenn Howard, Ontario skip
21 points – Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc, Nova Scotia skip **
21 points – Rob Fowler, Manitoba second
**Third-place finisher Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc was given a cheque for $1,000. Fitzner-LeBlanc was awarded third place because of his better draw-to-the-button result.
26 points – Glenn Howard, Ontario skip
22 points – Darrell McKee, Saskatchewan skip
22 points – Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc, Nova Scotia skip
22 points – Rob Fowler, Manitoba second
21 points – Ryan Harnden, Northern Ontario second
19 points – Jeff Stoughton, Manitoba skip
17 points – Ryan Fry, Newfoundland/Labrador second
14 points – James Grattan, New Brunswick skip
Preliminary Round (top eight) from Friday, March 5
29 points – Rob Fowler, Manitoba second
25 points – Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc, Nova Scotia skip
24 points – Jeff Stoughton, Manitoba skip *
24 points – Glenn Howard, Ontario skip *
24 points – Ryan Fry, Newfoundland/Labrador second *
23 points – Darrell McKee, Saskatchewan skip *
23 points – James Grattan, New Brunswick skip *
23 points – Ryan Harnden, Northern Ontario second *
* For playoff seeding purposes, the tied players drew to the button for ranking.