A scorching hot day greeted the latest local stop on the McLennan Ross Alberta Junior tour in Ponoka.
Twenty-two players from around the province, including three locals, hit the Ponoka Community Golf Club course on July 23, enjoying the sunshine early on in the morning before getting torched by the 30-plus degree heat late in the day.
Westlock’s Reid Casavant captured the boys event by shooting 78 on the slightly altered course, due to work having been done to improve the green on hole number nine. The victory marked Casavant’s second straight tour title, having won the day before at Edmonton’s RedTail Landing in a playoff.
Five players ended up just one shot back in the overall event, which included Ponoka’s Noah Hackett.
“It’s good to play on my home course,” Hackett said during his round. “I know the course layout, the fairways and the greens really well. There’s no real pressure as it just feels like I’m out for another round with friends.”
Hackett had already earned a wildcard spot for the Tour Championship set for Aug. 23 on the old course at Wolf Creek Golf Resort as did three of the other golfers tied for second. That handed on wildcard spot to Ben Lovrod of Grande Prairie with Fort Saskatchewan’s Bailey Butz, who shot a 79, getting the second wildcard.
One more wildcard entry went to another local golfer, Brendan Grabo, after carding an 80 to finish alone in sixth spot.
In the girls, there were just four golfers with Brynne Davies of Calgary’s Earl Grey Golf Club walk off with the title after firing an 84, 10 shots better than a pair of Edmonton girls — Suraiya Suleman of the Royal Mayfair and Mikayla Wood from RedTail Landing. Wood has now qualified for the tour championship as both Suleman and Davies had each claimed a spot previously.
Hackett, Lovrod and Jarrett Bossert of the Broadmoor in Sherwood Park (who also already qualified for the tour championship) finished in a three way tie for top spot in the flight for boys born 2000 to 2002.
In the boys 2003 to 2004 category, since Casavant and Ponoka’s Kaedin Wolfe (who shot an 82 on the day) had previously qualified to be at Wolf Creek, that allowed Owen Lai from the Gibbons area Goose Hummock course as well as Riley Buffalo from the Edmonton Montogomery Glen Golf and Country Club to secure their tee times at the championship after both shooting an 83.
Forestburg’s Jace Shannon captured the boys 2005 and later flight with a 78 with Edmonton Windermere golfer Ryan Garbutt finished next at 83. Both had already booked their championship spots, so Edmonton golfers Sahai Klair (RedTail) and Fergus McGarry (Glendale) that each shot 88 have now qualified.
According to Alberta Golf communications director Kevin Smith, the multiple qualifying spot were awarded because, “We didn’t have the heart to send any of the players back out on the golf course in that heat to break any ties for qualifying spots.”
The 25-stop 2019 tour, which is in its 24th season and features junior golfers from 10 to 18, continues on July 31 in Lacombe then moves to Goose Hummock Aug. 1 and 2 before returning to Camrose Aug. 6 for a re-scheduled event and then Aug. 7 at the Edmonton Petroleum Golf Club for stop number 18.