From July 10-13, young golf stars fought hard for the title of Future Links Golf Champion, in Golf Canada’s Future Links, driven by Acura Western Championship hosted at the Fernie Golf and Country Club.
Eighty-eight junior boys and 17 girls from across Canada competed in what turned out to be a very close tournament.
Surrey’s Claire Lovan was looking strong on Wednesday when she shot -3, bringing her to an even score above Vancouver’s Angela Zhang. However, come Thursday, Zhang took the top spot in the Junior Girls category, winning by two points with a score of -1 after recovering from a one-point deficit. Calgary’s Sydney Scraba placed third with a score of +3.
In the Junior Boys category, it came down to the last shot on hole 18.
Calgary’s Logan Carver claimed first in the Junior Boys category, but not after a close battle between Ethan Choi of Pincher Creek, Alta., and Ty Steinbring of Barrhead, Alta.
Carver was near the top throughout the week. Steinbring shot close in comparison to Carver who battled through a back-nine deficit to make the final group. Choi shot consistently all week, receiving an average score of three shots per hole, only taking one double throughout the first two days.
By Wednesday, Carver was looking very strong with a score of -4. Steinbring was close behind at -3, and Choi also at -2.
There was little talk on the greens come Thursday; each player was focused on the prize. By hole 18, all three boys were tied.
After driving down the massive 526 yard par-five hole, Carver had a slight advantage after he landed a high-flying shot which stopped feet from the flag in position for a birdie. Choi and Steinbring were not so lucky, and landed on the edge of the green. Both would have to sink their long-putts if they were to tie the match and send it into a playoff.
The crowd was silent as Choi examined the green, lined up his shot and hit. The line was true but a little heavy, causing the ball to hit the back rim and bounce out where it stopped, not one inch from the hole.
“OHH,” was heard throughout the crowd as Choi crumpled to the ground, hands over his face in disappointment.
Steinbring also attempted a long putt but missed his mark by several inches.
Carver remained calm as he sunk his putt for the win, and all three players exchanged hands in a classy display of sportsmanship. This guarantees Carver a spot at nationals, where he will compete for Canadian Junior Boys Champion.
“It feels good,” said Carver. “It feels even better that I got a spot at nationals, that’s what I came here to do.”
Speaking about his tough break, Choi said, “It is what it is, congrats to Logan, he played well.”
Carver and Steinbring tied for first in most number of birdies throughout the tournament; 13.
“I had fun all week, I played with great players,” said Carver.
For both Choi and Carver, this was their first time playing at the Fernie Golf and Country Club. For each, the toughest part about the course was the weather. The boys battled strong, unpredictable gusts and swirls of wind all day.
“You just have to be so precise when its into, or across,” said Carver. “It’s the type of course where if you short-side yourself, it’ll bite you. But it was a fair test; good course, good week.”
Carver’s ultimate goal with golf is to just keep getting better. He is currently going to school for commerce, and hopes to find a balance between improving his golf, and maintaining his grades.
Also competing in the Junior Boys category was Ottawa’s Jake Bryson, grandson of Fernie Ghostrider’s goalie coach, Gerry Pang. Pang, who has been playing golf and coaching hockey in Fernie for 26 years, was thrilled to watch his grandson play on his home course for the first time.
“I love it,” said Pang, who hadn’t seen his grandson since he was 13.
Although he didn’t place in this tournament, Bryson will be attending the University of Utah in the upcoming year on a NCAA (Div. 1 Men’s Golf) Scholarship. He hopes to pursue professional golf in the future.