Ilskens breaks through at Niagara National
Jack finally finished at the front of the pack.
Lookout Point’s Jack Ilskens carded a two over par 74 Tuesday at Niagara National to win the under-19 division of the latest stop on the Niagara District Junior Golf Tour.
It was the 16-year-old Welland resident’s first-ever triumph on the tour.
“I’ve been playing for four years on the tour so it’s a good feeling to win,” the Grade 11 student at Centennial said.
Finally winning was an important step for the 4.8 handicapper.
“It gets your momentum up. I just won the junior title at Lookout and that really sparked some confidence in my game.”
He shot 80 and 81 to win his club championship and qualify for the Champion of Champions. He wasn’t expecting to win Tuesday.
“I was playing with one of my friends Noah (LeBrasseur) and we were battling back and forth. We didn’t really know who the leaders were and we were even through 13.”
Ilskens recorded the win in dramatic fashion. He chipped in to save par on 17 and then birdied the final hole.
“There was some relief. I could say that I finally won one and it was a good moment for me.”
He credited his putter for securing the victory.
“I made a couple of long putts for birdie.”
llskens feels his game is moving in the right direction.
“I’m definitely putting better and I am finally hitting my irons more pure to get the ball on the green,” he said. “It is practice and going to the range and working on my swing.”
He is hoping to remain in the top five in the overall points race through next week’s final tournament at Beechwood. He went into the event at Niagara National in fifth spot.
“There’s some prizes at the end and to be in the top five would be cool.”
He has placed in the top 10 in the points race once in his career.
Landon Friesen kept the ball rolling Tuesday at Niagara National.
The 12-year-old St. Catharines resident shot a one under par 71 to win the under-13 boys division of the tour by six strokes.
“I am fortunate to be out here and my game play was amazing,” the Sawmill member said.
His round was good but couldn’t match the three under par round he recorded on his home course.
The Canadian Martyrs student credited his driver for his good round Tuesday. He averages 220 yards off the tee which is impressive considering he’s 5-foot-4 and weighs 108 pounds.
“My irons were a little bit tough and that’s about it,” he said.
His victory at Niagara National was his seventh straight on the tour this season and he will be the runaway winner of the overall points crown.
“It has been my game play and the work I put in over the winter. I raised up my distances and I’ve tried my hardest to hit it straight.”
The work in the off-season was done at the indoor facilities at Sawmill. Friesen plans to be back there working hard again this coming winter.
“I am going to do the same thing, repeat it over and over, get bigger and hit it farther.”
He is a big fan of golf.
“I like being out there with different people.”
Sawmill’s Ben Julie made it four wins this season in the under-15 division of the tour Tuesday at Niagara National.
The 14-year-old Pelham resident fired a one over par 73 to record a one-shot victory over clubmate Matthew Gray.
“I was hitting good shots into the greens and I gave myself birdie chances.”
It has been a good summer for Julie.
“My long game has gotten way better and I am hitting it a lot farther,” he said. “I worked out over the winter and practised my swing a lot.”
He has added about 10 yards to his irons and 15 yards to his driver. He averages about 220 yards off the tee.
Next week will be a big week for Julie as the tour wraps up and Sawmill hosts the under-15 provincial championships. He has a goal in mind for the provincials.
“I am hoping to shoot under 75 both days.”
Julie’s victory added to his lead in the race to be overall points champion.
“I’d like to win,” he said.
In the under-19 girls division, Casey Kenney shot an 83 to record a one-shot victory.
The tour wraps up Wednesday, August 23 at Beechwood.
Under-19 girls: Casey Kenney, Sawmill 83; Mikayla Lacey, Port Colborne 84; Sierra Kowalyshyn, Sawmill 85.
Under-19 boys: Jack Ilskens, Lookout Point 74; Noah LeBrasseur, Cherry Hill 75; Kian Oelofse, Lookout Point 76; Hudson Mielko, Lookout Point 77; Leo Savio, Cardinal Lakes 77; John Kingdon, Sawmill 77; Nathan Freure, Sawmill 77; Ryder Fletcher, Bridgewater 79; Mateo Rego, Players Club Ottawa 79; Austin Ste. Croix, Twenty Valley 79; Andrew Burciul, Sawmill 79.
Under-15 boys: Ben Julie, Sawmill 73; Matthew Gray, Sawmill 74; Brennan Turner, Peninsula Lakes 75; Dawson Dermatas, St. Catharines G&CC 76; Chase Partridge, St. Catharines G&CC 77; Trent Clarke, Sawmill 77; Towns Bestward, Golf Canada Clubhouse 78; Jaxon Pozzobon, Sawmill 78; Ryan Kirkpatrick. Sawmill 80; Braxton Fleguel, Golf Canada Clubhouse 81; Joseph Zupanic, Sawmill 81.
Under-13 boys: Landon Friesen, Sawmill 71; Alex Shorthouse, Players Club Hamilton 77; Jack Vitiello. Sawmill 82; Joshua Bertrand, Sawmill 83; Daxx Partridge, St. Catharines G&CC 83; Jonah Sobie. Players Club Mississauga West 95.