OLDS, Alta. — Brad Jacobs and his crew from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., became the first to clinch a berth in the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup playoffs.
Jacobs kept his unblemished record intact and climbed to a 4-0 record following a 6-2 victory over John Epping’s Toronto-based team during Draw 10 action Thursday at the Olds Sportsplex.
The seven-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champion Jacobs, playing in his final event before taking a hiatus from the sport, could still clinch a bye to the semifinals with one group game remaining Friday against Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L.
Team Jacobs were hot out of the gate. Lead Ryan Harnden covered the pinhole during the draw-to-the-button shootout to secure the hammer to start and Jacobs was able to convert for a deuce in the opening frame by drawing to the back of the button.
With Jacobs hiding a rock at the side of the four-foot circle, Epping was forced to draw to it for a single point in the second.
After a blank in three, Jacobs hurled a fastball at the quarry that was cluttering up the house in four but when the dust settled it was just a single point following a measurement in the eight-foot circle to go up 3-1 at the break.
Jacobs, who shot a game-high 92 per cent, stole one in the fifth end as Epping was able to avoid the guard but took out his own rock in the house to give up a steal and fall behind by three points.
Epping (1-3) was forced to hit and stick for just a single in the sixth and Jacobs added some insurance with a deuce in the seventh that led to handshakes.
The trio of Epping, third Ryan Fry and lead Brent Laing are playing without second Mat Camm this week.
Elsewhere, Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher topped Winnipeg’s Team Jason Gunnlaugson 7-6 with both teams now level at 2-2 records.
In women’s play, Team Eun-Jung Kim of South Korea beat Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan 7-4 and Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones defeated Team Tabitha Peterson of the United States 9-6.
Kim and Homan hold 2-2 records while Jones and Peterson are both at 1-3.
Both divisions are split into two groups of six for pool play. The best six teams overall qualify for the playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals.
Pool play runs through to Friday with the quarterfinals and semifinals scheduled for Saturday and both finals set for Sunday.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup is the fourth and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the 2021-22 season featuring 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams who have won top tour titles in order to qualify. … A combined $210,000 prize purse is up for grabs with the winning teams earning $25,000 plus berths to next year’s KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup.