Final game of Players' Championship comes down to final shot by veteran skip
SUMMERSIDE – It was a storybook ending to a distinguished career!
Kevin Martin, who announced on Friday night that he is retiring from curling and will join Rogers Sportsnet as an analyst next season, won the season-ending Players’ Championship at Eastlink Arena on Sunday evening. Martin pulled out an exciting 4-3 victory over 2014 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Jacobs.
“There were a couple of big things (that played a big role in the final),” explained Martin, 47. “Before the game even started in the draw to the button, Brad hit the button, I hit the button, both thirds hit the button and Dave (Nedohin) ended up outdrawing E.J. (Harnden in a battle of second stones), so we had hammer and then got the first deuce (in the second end).
“Those were the two big things – winning the hammer and gaining the first deuce, and we carried it from there.”
But the last chapter was not written until Martin’s final hammer shot of the game in the eighth end.
“Two up (4-2) going home with the hammer, and sure enough have to draw against three,” said Martin, who made a perfect draw right to Jacobs’ shot rock that was placed on the button to win his record eighth Players’ Championship. “Man, that is as much pressure as I’ve felt, even in the Olympics or anything else.
“That 18th (Grand) Slam (title), I wanted it so bad. I just wanted to make sure I was focused and got the job done.”
Martin, third stone Marc Kennedy, Nedohin and lead Ben Hebert took home $73,500 from the Players’ Championship, the fourth and final event of the Grand Slam of Curling. The breakdown of Martin’s purse is as follows: $19,000 first-place prize; $4,500 for three round-robin wins ($1,500 each) and a $50,000 bonus for being the men’s points’ leader for the Grand Slam.
Jacobs took home $16,500. His breakdown is $12,000 for the runner-up and $4,500 for three round-robin wins. Jacobs did not take home any bonus money.
“It was a very memorable season,” said Jacobs. “We are really looking forward to the future of this team.
“We are really going to put all the success we had this past year behind us this summer, and come out really hungry for next year.”
The difference in the game was Martin’s ability to score a pair of deuces with the hammer in the second and fourth ends while limiting Jacobs to single points in the third, seventh and eighth ends.
“It was kind of tough to climb back with the way Kevin was playing throwing last rock,” said Jacobs, who was forced to blank the fifth and sixth ends. “That’s the way it goes sometime. It’s OK.”
Jacobs admitted “it’s definitely special” to be the last team to play Martin, who ruled out any return to competitive curling down the road.
“That’s something we will always remember,” said Jacobs. “It’s too bad we came out on the losing side, we definitely would have liked to have won that game, but they deserved it.
“Two up (4-2) going home with the hammer, and sure enough have to draw against three. Man, that is as much pressure as I’ve felt, even in the Olympics or anything else. That 18th (Grand) Slam (title), I wanted it so bad. I just wanted to make sure I was focused and got the job done.” Skip Kevin Martin
“Kevin played phenomenal, their whole team played phenomenal and we have to hand it to them.”
As all teams did all week, the Jacobs and Martin rinks patiently signed autographs, posed for a number of photos and gave young fans jerseys and team jackets following the final.
“There were a lot of kids out here, which was really nice to see,” said Jacobs. “The fans knew when to cheer. They are obviously well-educated curling fans, normally everyone is in Canada.
“The hospitality has been great, everything at the hotel, everyone at the arena, all the volunteers, it’s a world-class event.”
Martin also participated in the 2012 Players’ Championship in Summerside. When asked how the experience was for his rink this time around, Martin commented: “I would say a lot like two years ago. . . Everybody is super friendly. It’s (P.E.I.) just a treasure.”
Saturday, Martin defeated John Epping 6-4 and Mike McEwen 6-5 in the quarter-finals and semifinals. Jacobs defeated Kevin Koe 7-6 in the quarter-finals, and topped Brad Gushue 6-4 in the semifinals.