Ogada and Greaves win AJT McLennan Ross Tour Championship. Bennett Love shoots 67 in U13.

By Dunc Mills:

All good things must come to an end, and the 2023 McLennan Ross Alberta Junior Tour is no exception.

The 28th season for the Tour came to a wonderful and slightly wet conclusion this afternoon at Riverbend Golf and Recreation Area in Red Deer.  With the weatherman serving up chilly temperatures and a steady drizzle most of the day, let’s just say that the demand for parking at the splash park adjacent to the golf course in the Red Deer River valley wasn’t too excessive.  But 98 juniors from across the province made the most of the damp, but windless conditions, to post some fine scores in the annual Tour Championship.

The major excitement of the day was a sudden-victory playoff between 15-year-old Nicole Rohr of Camrose and 14-year-old Sela Ogada from Sirocco GC in Calgary.  Rohr, who held a wide lead in the season-long girls points standings leading up to the Tour Championship, and Ogada each fired 5-over par 77s over the beautifully conditioned Riverbend fairways and big, fast greens. After routine pars on the par-4 1st hole in the playoff, the competitors moved over to the par-5 9th for the second playoff hole.  Ogada went centre-cut on a 15-footer for birdie, forcing Rohr to make an 8-footer to tie. When Rohr’s putt slid by the edge of the cup, Ogada became the 2023 Tour Champion.

Sela Ogada, 2023 McLennan Ross Tour Championship Girl’s Champion


PGA of Alberta Junior Masters Champion Sophie Dhaliwal of Wingfield GC in Calgary and  12-year-old up-and-comer Hannah Thomas of The Glencoe Golf and Country Club in Calgary  tied for 3rd overall with 79s.  Thomas’ effort captured the Girls U13 age group, Ogada bested the U15s, Rohr was tops in the U17s, and Dhaliwal led the way in the U19 division.

U13 Low Gross Champions Bennett Love and Hannah Thomas

U17 Low Gross Champions Nicole Rohr and Zaiden Dennis

In the Junior Boys division, we had an overall Low Gross Tour Champion from the U15 flight, as Charles Greaves of Banff Springs fired an even-par 72, a single shot clear of both Kade Trefanenko from The Links at Spruce Grove and Zaiden Dennis of Valley Ridge GC in Calgary.

Charles Greaves, 2023 McLennan Ross Tour Championship Boy’s winner


But special mention must be made of the sensational 5-under par 67 turned in by 12-year-old Bennett Love of the Red Deer GCC.  Tour followers remember Love’s equally spectacular 6-under par 66 last month in Ponoka, so it was no surprise that this player was capable of ‘going deep’ to this extent.  As Tour organizers, we probably should have given Love the opportunity of ‘playing up’ and competing from the 6,308-yard Blue tees with the older players in order to be able to contest the Tour Championship title instead of the 5,325-yard yellow tees where the rest of the U13 boys were handling a course at a manageable length for most of them  We will be better going forward in making decisions of this nature to recognize this level of talent, but in no way does this detract from Love’s five-birdie, one-eagle attack on par.

Love obviously won the U13 flight, with Greaves leading the way in the U15 division as we mentioned. Zaiden Dennis’ 73 captured the U17 flight, with Daniel Boyle of Windermere GCC on top in the U19 division with a 2-over 74.

Daniel Boyle U19 Low Gross winner


Today’s tournament brings the 2023 Tour season to a conclusion. We held 24 tournaments in July and August, from Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray in the north to Lethbridge and Medicine Hat in the south.  Most tournaments were at or close to their capacity as we welcomed dozens of juniors getting their very first taste of junior golf competition,with hundreds more Tour ‘regulars’ testing their games on superb golf courses in towns and cities around Alberta while renewing previous friendships and forging new ones.

A huge thank you goes out to the host sites that opened their arms to these kids as the Tour helps fulfil its mandate of growing the game. Thank you to our Corporate Partners whose generous financial and product support of the Tour makes these events possible in the first place.  Thank you to the parents and families of the players who also open their wallets to pay the entry fees and travel for these youngsters travelling from tournament to tournament. But as we say every year, the largest and most enthusiastic thank yous go to the players.  Golf is a hard game, and it both takes and builds character to put your golf game on display week after week for the world to examine in real-time scoring. As I have often mentioned, only two players go home happy each tournament; one boy and one girl.  The rest of the field deals with varying degrees of disappointment. We are already thinking ahead to the 2024 season, with new venues, new players and new levels of fun and competition.

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