Youth beat out experience at the Skookum Asphalt Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament on Saturday.
A trio of young guns topped the field of over 30 teams at the fifth annual event at Mountain View Golf Course.
Whitehorse juniors Parker Olson, 16, Riley Smoler, 15, and Bryce Anderson, 14, carded a 63, with the help of pro Shaun Lundy of Highland Pacific Golf Club on Vancouver Island, to win the team competition.
Did you think 63 was good enough to take it?
“Not at all,” said Olson. “There were some pretty good teams out there. I thought there were going to be some low scores.
“I was pretty excited seeing that the junior could win it. It was kind of exciting.”
The junior team penciled six birdies on the card in their round. Lundy registered a 73 in the morning with the juniors, before an 87 in the afternoon with a different team.
Olson recently represented Yukon at the B.C. Junior Boys Golf Championship and played for the territory at the Canada Summer Games last August in Quebec.
“We were really close to an eagle on Hole 18, but we all lipped-out on all our putts,” said Olson. “It was too bad because it wasn’t even that long of a putt, we just couldn’t see the putt.”
The Skookum event got its first repeat winner on the pro side of the tournament.
Chris Toth of Stony Plain Golf Course outside of Edmonton defended his title with a 72 in the morning and a 73 in the afternoon for a combined 145.
Defending the title was a “shocker,” said Toth.
“I played well, obviously. I was tied with a couple of guys in the morning,” he said. “And then going out in the afternoon and shooting one over, I didn’t think it was going to hold on. My last three holes went bogey, par, bogey, and I figured I had gave it away.
“But with the wind blowing in the afternoon, it made the golf course difficult.”
Only three of the 19 pros had better rounds in the afternoon than they did in the morning.
One of which was Tyler Rumpel of Jagere Ridge Golf Club in Edmonton, who took second with a 76 and a 71 for 147 combined.
Two pros tied for third with combined 149s. Doug Morgan of Redwoods Golf Course in Vancouver and Alberta PGA’s Kent Fukushima, who placed second last year, took the No. 3 spot.
A total of 19 pros, including Mountain View pros Jeff Wiggins and Graham Frey, took part in the pro-am.
The course record of 65, set by pro Trevor Metcalf in the inaugural pro-am in 2010, remained intact. In fact, not a single pro broke 70 on Saturday.
“The course played extremely tough,” said Wiggins. “The course is in incredible shape, but the reason the scoring was much higher was because the greens were extremely firm this year and the rough was a little thicker and more hardy than it has been in other years.
“In the afternoon the scoring went through the roof because of those winds.”
Toft logged three birdies on Round 1 and four in Round 2, with no eagles. Like last year, his driver never left his bag.
“The big thing I do there is I don’t hit my driver,” said Toth. “I hit my driver really straight, but because a lot of the holes at Mountain View are dog-legs, or curve to the right or the left, you have to make the ball shape that way. If you’re trying to hit a shot dead straight on a hole that dog-legs, inevitably, you’re going to be in the trees.
“The other secret to my success is I try to get it on the front edge of every green because every green is sloped from back to front … If you’re just getting it on the front edge, then you have uphill putts all day that you can be a little more aggressive with.”
Saturday was Toft’s fourth consecutive year in the pro-am and his second pro-am win of the season. He also won a title at his course at Stony Plain earlier this summer.
“What appeals to me is how much the community comes together and supports and fundraises for the hospital,” said Toth. “To me, that’s amazing. The work that has been done, the fundraising that has been done, and the funds that have been raised.
“We have a bunch of charity pro-ams around here, and we’re drawing from millions of people, and nothing comes close to what I see up in Whitehorse … A pro-am around here might raise $10,000 or 15,000.”
An early estimation puts the money raised for the Yukon Hospital Foundation at a little under $60,000, said the foundation’s Krista Prochazka.
The first four editions of the pro-am raised over $270,000 for the foundation, helping buy an MRI for Whitehorse’s hospital.
“Construction of the facility is underway,” said Prochazka. “The MRI will be in place by the end of this year and we should be operational by early 2015.”
“The funds from (Saturday’s) tournament are going towards new equipment for the operating room,” she added. “We are investing in some state-of-the-art scopes for a better patient experience when they do have to come in for surgery.”
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