Sawmill golfer shows well at International Junior Masters
Cole Thompson came away more than happy with his performance at the International Junior Masters Tournament last week at the East Aurora Country Club.
The 16-year-old Sawmill golfer finished runnerup in the platinum bracket, losing 3-2 to Tyler Berkman of the United States in match play.
“I’ve never played match play before so I knew it was going to be a different experience,” the Blessed Trinity student said. “It was a four-day tournament so it was a lot of golf. I thought of it as a new experience and to just do as best as I could and take one shot at a time and not worry about anything else or other things going on.”
Thompson credits being mentally prepared as another big reason for his success.
“Another thing that helped me do well was keeping myself mentally focused and having proper nutrition and hydration on and off the course,” he said. “For the matches we played 36 holes two days in a row in 30+ degree Celsius heat. It was very tiring physically and that’s how I gained an edge on my opponents, being prepared for tough conditions and long days.”
The International Junior Masters is generally regraded as one of top junior tournaments in the world. Past participants include 2023 US Open champion Jim Furyk, Canadian PGA winner Mackenzie Hughes and several other PGA tournament winners.
“There were 74 golfers from all over the world, from 10 countries,” Thompson said. “They’re the best golfers from everywhere so obviously the competition was very, very good.”
Thompson tried to put the competition out of his mind and not get intimated by the other talent.
“I try not to think about it too much. I try to focus on my swing and not worry about what they’re doing. I can only control what I can control.”
Thompson admitted match play can be a different animal.
“Lots of people have their different strategies but I found what works for me is to stick to the order and react to what they do,” he said. “So, if they airmail one over the green, then just put yourself on the green and go for par and then hopefully they don’t get up and down. “
“It’s the difference between being aggressive and conservative on each hole depending on what the other person does.”
Thompson’s overall game was solid.
“I was pretty consistent tee to green. In match play, putting is a big factor. I made a couple of big putts and my short game was working pretty well so that obviously helps you win some holes and get in the opponent’s head.
“I was really clutch coming down the stretch with my wedge game from inside 100 yards. I hit it to within four feet from 65 yards in my first match to secure birdie and the win. In the second match, I hit it to within three feet from 75 yards to get another birdie to close the match. And in the third match we were even on the 18th hole and I chipped in to get birdie and win the match.”
Thompson is participating at the U19 Ontario Junior Boys Championship at Bond Head this week.
“I want to take all the great opportunities I’ve had this year so far and take all the knowledge and confidence from all those experiences and use it to my advantage for future tournaments,” he said.
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