Sawmill golfers enjoy home cooking
Sawmill golfers made it a clean sweep in all age categories on their home course Sunday on the second stop of the 2023 Niagara District Junior Golf Tour.
Defending U19 boys champion Cole Thompson fired a 73 to capture his first win of the year while Casey Kenney, who is looking for her third straight junior girls title, shot a 71 to win her first event of the year.
Landon Friesen took home top spot in the U13 boys division with a 77 while Ben Julie fired a 79 to place first in the U15 boys category.
Thompson didn’t play last Saturday because he was taking part in a practice round for the International Junior Masters in East Aurora, N.Y.
“I’m pretty happy to start off with a win,” the 16-year-old, Blessed Trinity student said. “You can put a lot of pressure on yourself when you’re only playing a couple of Niagara tours this year. You still want to do well and defend my title but I have to play it like a normal round.”
Thompson, who will play in the International Junior Masters beginning Tuesday, has a busy summer ahead with plans to play in the U19 championship and U17 match play qualifier Golf Ontario events.
“I want to make the cut at the U19 championship and finish as well as I can,” he said.
He is currently ranked fourth by Junior Golf Pathway in the U17 division.
“My goal is to be up there, top five, top three, in hopes of getting invited to the summer camp and just try and play as well as I can.”
Kenney, a 17-year-old Sir Winston Churchill student, fared much better with school for the season in the rear-view mirror.
“I really haven’t been out as much as I would have liked to this year,” she said. “I had a pretty stressful time finishing Grade 12. Last week at Brock I wasn’t too focused because I had exams but now that it’s done, I’ve been able to actually focus in on golf.”
Kenney, who plans to play in Golf Ontario events as well as on the junior tour this summer, had her long game working for her.
“My drives were working well for me. I turned around my putting about halfway through the round. If you look at my scorecard, I turned it around.
“I normally don’t play the greens at Sawmill and it was a fun challenge. It made the holes much more fun because the holes were reachable with my driver.”
Friesen, a 12-year-old Canadian Martyrs student, loves playing Sawmill.
“It’s mainly about the home course advantage and how the course is laid out for me,” he said. “I’m used to hot days. It’s been fairly on my side this year.”
Friesen said extra work in the winter is paying off.
“It’s really turned it up for me since last year putting on a lot of distance,” he said.
He is also working on the mental aspect of his game.
“I stay in the one-shot mindset and worry about one shot at a time,” he said. “If I hit a bad shot I’ll put it into my past. I’ve worked on my emotional game. Last year was tough for me. I didn’t quite get over my emotions and I would always keep that hole in my head but this year it’s been a lot better and I’m taking it one shot at a time.”
Julie, who will be attending E.L. Crossley this fall after graduating from Wellington Heights, said the familiarity of his home course came in handy.
“(It helped) probably a lot because I knew the course really well,” he said. “It was hot and I had to drink lots of water and stay in the shade.”
Julie said the heat made for some tough conditions.
“I couldn’t hold any greens today,” he said. “I just try and hit it a club-left every time so it just rolls up to the greens.”
Julie edged Joseph Zupanic of Sawmill by three strokes for his win.
“I was just trying to play well,” he said. “I just try and play my best and play one shot at a time.”
Following are the leaderboards from Sunday’s action.
Under-13 boys: Landon Friesen, Sawmill 77; Alex Shorthouse, Players Club Hamilton 89; Jack Vitiello, Sawmill 92; Joshua Bertrand, Sawmill 93; Jonah Sobie, Players Club Mississauga West 105.
Under-15 boys: Ben Julie, Sawmill 79; Joseph Zupanic, Sawmill 82; Trent Clarke, Sawmill 85; Brennan Turner, Peninsula Lakes 87, Ryan Kirkpatrick, Sawmill 87; Jaxon Pozzobon, Sawmill 92; Dawson Dermatas, St. Catharines G&CC 93, Carter Thompson, Sawmill 93; Joey Kuschei, Deerfield 96; Vince Belardi, Sawmill 96.
Under-19 boys: Cole Thompson, Sawmill 73; John Kingdon, Sawmill 75; Luke Baranoski, St. Catharines G&CC 77, Jack Ilskens, Lookout Point 77; Benjamin Morin, Bridgewater 79; Will Burleigh, Sawmill 80, Sammy Rootes Catharines G&CC 80, Noah LeBrasseur, Cherry Hill 80; Alec Linton, Sawmill 81; Liam Kirk Players Club, Hamilton 82, Austin Ste. Croix, Twenty Valley 82, Luca Santostefano, Cardinal Lakes Golf Club 82.
Under-19 girls: Casey Kenney, Sawmill 71; Sierra Kowalyshyn, Sawmill 79; Grace Stewart, Sawmill 81; McKinley Stewart, Sawmill 100, Edyn Sobie, Players Club Mississuaga West 100.
The next stop on the tour is Friday, June 30 at Willodell.
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