Olds Junior Open
By Dunc Mills
The SOLD OUT sign was hung up again this morning at the Olds Junior Open, today’s stop on the McLennan Ross Alberta Junior Tour. The Tour, celebrating its 25th year, is off to a spectacular start this summer, with every event on the schedule to date chock full of junior golfers from across the province eager to get their feet wet in the world of junior golf competition. We have seen a tremendous surge in interest in junior golf across Alberta this summer, not only at McLennan Ross Alberta Junior Tour events, but at clubs throughout the province. Word is filtering back from junior coordinators that the level of demand at clubs is the highest in many years. Blame it on Covid, blame it on whatever you want to, but we’re not complaining. It’s fantastic for the health of the game.
We had our first sudden-victory playoff in the 2020 season today in the Junior Girls’ division at the beautifully conditioned Olds Central Highlands GC. Head Professional Wade Bearchell and his team of staff and volunteers had protocols and procedures organized like clockwork for 73 juniors from as far away as Edmonton and Brooks to Lethbridge and points in between. When the scorecards were all tallied, Olivia Leung from The Winston GC in Calgary, Kali Yeske of Calgary’s Valley Ridge GC and 9-year-old Aleah Shields-Ropide of McCall Lake GC in Calgary finished in a three-way dead heat with matching 85s. Shields-Ropide is competing off of a solid 9.2 handicap index (what was YOUR handicap at 9?) , so she certainly wasn’t out of her league with the older girls. But it was Leung who came out on top, making a routine par-4 on the first extra hole to capture her first tournament victory at the ‘advanced’ age of 14! We had a sensational total of 19 junior girls on hand this morning, continuing an amazing run of outstanding turnouts for junior girls so far this season. With the large number of girls on hand today, three qualifying spots in the August 28th Tour Championship at Wolf Creek Golf Resort were up for grabs, and these three youngsters in the playoff took those qualifying spots home with them in addition to their prizes.
The junior boys were not to be outdone as several players in the field were coming off successful performances last week at the Alberta Golf U-19 Championships at The Links at Spruce Grove. Rory Wutzke of Camrose, who finished T31 at the U-19s, offset 4 bogies with 5 birdies to post a 1-under par 71, good for a 2-shot margin over Quinn Laidlaw of The Winston. Nolan Edwards of River’s Edge GC in Okotoks and McKenzie Meadows’ winner Jeremy Hart of Sirocco GC in Calgary were T3 on 75. Wutzke, Laidlaw and Edwards all punched their tickets to the Tour Championship by virtue of their play this afternoon. They will be joined in the field at Wolf Creek by Christian Flick of Carnmoney GCC in Calgary, whose 78 was best in the large flight of boys born in 2006 and later, and Heritage Pointe’s Josiah Tong, whose 79 earned the available spot from the flight for boys born in 2004/05.
The run of sold out McLennan Ross Alberta Junior Tour events continues next Monday at RedTail Landing GC in Nisku, followed by another full field at Whitetail Crossing GC in Mundare. As of 6 pm this evening, 19 entries remain up for grabs in Camrose on July 22 as they will be capping their field at 72 players. Get those spots while you can if you haven’t already entered.
OVERALL TOP TEN:
1. Rory WUTZKE Camrose 71
2. Quinn LAIDLAW The Winston 73
T3. Jeremy HART Sirocco 75
T3. Nolan EDWARDS River’s Edge 75
5. Christian FLICK Carnmoney 78
T6. Josiah TONG Heritage Pointe 79
T6. Branden LAILEY The Winston 79
8. Jalen APEDOE Serenity 80
T9. Reid WILLIAMSON Olds 81
T9. Cole PHILLIPS Willow Park 81
THE FOLLOWING PLAYERS FINISHED IN THE TOP 6 AND TIES IN THEIR AGE GROUPS, EARNING TITLEIST ORDER OF MERIT RANKING POINTS.
BOYS BORN IN 2001 – 2003
1. Rory WUTZKE Camrose 71 Q
2. Quinn LAIDLAW The Winston 73 WC
3. Nolan EDWARDS River’s Edge 75 WC
4. Matthew FRIEDRICK Brooks 86
T5. Seth MARRIOTT Lacombe 88
T5. Thijs Van-LANKVELT Wintergreen 88
BOYS BORN IN 2004-05
1. Jeremy HART Sirocco 75 PQ
T2. Branden LAILEY The Winston 79 PQ
T2. Josiah TONG Heritage Pointe 79 Q
4. Reid WILLIAMSON Olds 81
5. Aidan FONG Country Hills 82
T6. Jaden PATEL Inglewood 86
T6. Nathan ROGERS The Winston 86
BOYS BORN IN 2006 & LATER
1. Christian FLICK Carnmoney 78 Q
2. Jalen APEDOE Serenity 80
3. Cole PHILLIPS Willow Park 81
4. Mateo KERN Canyon Meadows 82
5. Ryan BADGER RedTail Landing 84
T6. Chase STRANG Woodside 87
T6. Nathan FLEWELLING Innisfail 87
1. Olivia LEUNG The Winston 85 *
P2. Kali YESKE Valley Ridge 85
P2. Aleah SHIELDS-ROPIDE McCall Lake 85
T4. Carla Van REMMEN Pinebrook 91
T4. Serin GIRARD River Bend 91
6. Kristine DIXON Lynx RIdge 93
* = Won sudden-victory playoff on the first extra hole.
Q = Player qualified for the Tour Championship at Wolf Creek Golf Resort on August 28th
PQ = Player had previously qualified for the Tour Championship.