AJT Collicut Siding Junior Open

By Dunc Mills:

It has probably happened before in the 28-year history of the McLennan Ross Alberta Junior Tour, but if it has, it hasn’t happened often.  Maybe Greg and Claire Stephanson, an excellent brother-sister combination from the late 1990s, did it.  But today, Jeevin and Sophie Dhaliwal of Wingfield GC in Calgary became possibly the first brother – sister pair to capture the low overall gross boys and girls championships in the same Tour event.

Sophie has been getting the lion’s share of the family golf ‘pub’ this summer, coming on the heels of her T13 finish last month at the Alberta Golf U19 Championship in Turner Valley.  But brother Jeevin wasn’t taking any back seats this morning at Collicutt Siding GC in Crossfield.  Dhaliwal fired a bogey-free, career-low 3-under par 69 to capture his first McLennan Ross Alberta Junior Title, edging 2022 Tour Champion Kole Keenas of Country Hills GCC by a single shot, as the competitors today treated par with disdain.

In addition to Dhaliwal and  Keenas’ efforts, three other players fired 1- under 71s and another FIVE players turned in scores of even-par 72.  One of the 72s belonged to Maaz BinSaad who lists his home club in Dharain, Saudi Arabia!

Keenas was probably lamenting making only a par-5 on the 9th hole as he bombed a 350-yard drive and then took four more blows to hole out from having a lob wedge in his hands for his 2nd shot.

Age group winners today included Bennett Love of Red Deer GCC in the boys’ U13 division, who while he couldn’t match last month’s 6-under 66 at Ponoka, still took top money in the U13’s with a 1-under 71. Dhaliwal was tops in the U15 age group, six shots clear of Chase Strang of Woodside GC down the QEII in Airdrie.  It was a blanket finish in the boys’ U17 flight, as no less than ten players finished between 71 and 75.  Zaiden Dennis of Valley Ridge and Avery Shadbolt of Sylvan Lake tied for low gross in the division with 1-under 71s.   Keenas’ 70 led the way in the boys’ U19 flight, two shots clear of Jason de Klerk of the home club.

Ten junior girls teed it up this morning and Sophie Dhaliwal, who for today is better known as Jeevin’s older sister, fired a wonderful 1-over par 73 to capture the overall junior girls’ low gross championship and the U19/ U17 age group.  Sophie’s round was a little more up-and-down that her brother’s as she fired 4 birdies offset by 3 bogies and a double. Jazmine Lazzari of Inglewood GCC was runner-up with a 77 which also led the pack in the U15 / U13 flight.

Special mention must be made of the continued outstanding work done by Head Professional and General Manager Lyndon King with his operation of Canada’s largest junior golf academy.  King’s 2023 program just wound up last week, with over 1,000 kids having participated in this incredible display of growing the game.  For those of you unfamiliar with King’s academy, that isn’t a misprint.  That’s not 100 kids coming out ten times each, or 50 kids taking lessons 20 times each.  That is ONE THOUSAND different youngsters from all over southern Alberta who are getting exposed to golf through this outstanding program.

The Tour moves east of Calgary on Wednesday to the Strathmore GC.  The field will feature many of the same players that were in Crossfield today as the juniors take advantage of every competitive opportunity they can get prior to the Tour Championship coming up on August 31 at River Bend Golf and Recreation Area in Red Deer.

For more information about the McLennan Ross Alberta Junior Tour, please visit our website at www.albertagolfjuniors.org

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