The Maple Leaf Junior Tour travelled to the spectacular Legacy GC in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend for the MJT National Championships. The best junior golfers from across Canada traveled to the sunshine of Arizona to compete in 4 categories, Girls, Boys under 13, Boys 14-16 and Boys 17-19.
The tournament again this year was dominated by Whistle Bear Juniors and it's Junior Performance Team. "This is a dream result and a strong statement of the benefits of our Junior Performance Team programs" stated team coach Dave Smallwood about Whistle Bear Juniors winning all 3 boys divisions. Whistle Bear had 6 juniors qualify in the field of 72 players and was led by Keaton Jones who his first National title in the boys 14-16 division last year at Champions Gate GC in Orlando. Keaton again won this weekend in the boys 17-19 age division with two great rounds of 71-69 which also crowned him the tournaments overall Champion. "Keaton has played tremendously the last 2 years and has a calmness about him in pressure situations that allows him to close these tournaments out. His final round 69 this year and 68 in the final round at last years championship proves that he rises to the top under pressure. Some players want that puck in the last minute of the game and some prefer to stay on the bench, this kid wants the puck and coach Skimson and myself couldn't be prouder of him."
In the boys 14-16 divisions Junior Performance Team member Jack Quirke continued to show that he is one of the top juniors in the country with his victory in a 3 hole playoff. Jack shot 2 solid rounds of 72-71 to win his first national title. After the victory team Coach Mike Skimson said " Jack has been improving at a tremendous pace this season and Dave and I are thrilled to see him get rewarded for his hard work. He has a great demenor for the game and it won't be the last time we will see Jack hold a National Championship trophy."
To complete the trifecta Whistle Bear junior Mackenzie Raines won the under 13 division with a spectacular 2 rounds of 70-75. Mac's first round of 1 under par 70 helped him hold of MJT Player of the Year Tyler Nagano of Ontario. "Mackenzie is so strong he has absolutely no limitations on the golf course, he has no weaknesses he drives it long and straight, flights his irons beautifully and pitches, chips and putts very well. At the rate Mackenzie is improving it will be thrilling to see what he accomplishes in his golf career." quoted Smallwood.
Ontario dominated the entire tournament with Corrine Grans-Wood winning the girls division, Team Ontario won the Interprovincial title (Joel Albany, Tyler Nagano, Maddison Easterbrooke and Rys Davies).
All Whistle Bear juniors played exceptional with Colton Clemmer shooting rounds of 74-70 to tie for 4th in the boys 17-19 division, with team mate Matt Chiasson, 73-71. Maybe one of the most impressive performances was that of Whistle Bear Junior Team member Brenden Henriques who scored round of 76-76 in his first ever national championship. "Our players are very skilled and a great deal of credit goes to coach Skimson for their preparation leading up to the tournament. Mike scheduled extra practice time for the boys these past few weeks over and above their regular 90 minute sessions with the entire team. I feel it is also a great asset to the boys to have Mike and myself on site to help with course preparation, on range last minute changes and overall coaching support" explained Smallwood.
The tournament was also very important for those looking for golf scholarships with numerous college coaches in attendance for the 2 days. The opening banquet included a presentation from the Arizona State University Golf Coach, Tim Mikelson who happens to be Phil Mikelson's younger brother.
"This is a banner day for our program at Whistle Bear GC. The collective efforts of all our team of coaches, Mike Skimson. Carrie Vaughan, Mike Martz, Mark Wilson, Dr. Rich Ennis, Greg Bullock. Our concept and training is working and with the continues support of Executive Professional Brad Duench, Head Professional Chris Wehrle, the Whistle Bear owners and members the over 50 members of the Whistle Bear Junior Performance Team will keep working hard and continue to make us all proud.