Stay out of trouble, sink some putts, have fun.
It all added up to a winning formula for Vernon golfer Braeden Cooper, who captured the Bantam Boys division at the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour’s Odlum Brown Classic PGA of B.C. Junior Championship by seven shots Wednesday at Surrey’s Northview Golf and Country Club.
The 14-year-old Vernon Secondary School student fired rounds of 72-71-73 to finish even-par, seven shots ahead of North Vancouver’s Sean Buckles, for his first Maple Leaf tour victory (has one second-place finish).
Throw in a practice round score of 70, and Cooper was two-under for 72 holes.
“My driving was a big key,” said Cooper. “I think I missed only three fairways in three days. My putting was average on the first two days, but I made three putts over 20 feet today (final round).
“This tournament was a good chance to size up against my age group in B.C. and it feels awesome to win. All my work finally paid off.”
Cooper entered Wednesday’s final round with a two-shot lead over Buckles. He increased the advantage to eight shots after the front nine.
“I just wanted to go out and play my game,” said Cooper. “I knew if I played a good round I could win. I wanted to try to make sure I kept the lead or kept close to Sean.”
Cooper shared the win with his dad, Roy, and uncle Al Cooper, who walked all three rounds in support.
The Cooper brothers were joined in the gallery Wednesday by Braeden’s longtime friend Dexter Weiten, who missed the cut in the Juvenile Boys division.
Cooper’s 216 total would have placed him third if the tournament had an overall leaderboard instead of split into divisions.
Only the Junior Boys division winner, Connor McLellan of Chilliwack, at 213, and Juvenile champ Khan Lee of Surrey (215) had better scores than Cooper.
The result gives Cooper a huge confidence boost heading into the 2015 Maple Leaf Junior Tour Ford Series event Aug. 10 and 11 at Predator Ridge, and the B.C. Juvenile Championships Aug. 18-20 at Spallumcheen.
“I know I can compete with guys that are older than me,” said Cooper. “My confidence is good. The upcoming events will have older guys, too, and if I’m playing well enough and play like I can, I should be up there.”
n Four Vernon golfers missed the cut, and a fifth withdrew, following the first two rounds of the B.C. Senior Men’s Championship at Swaneset Bay Resort Course in Pitt Meadows.
Mark Longworth of the Vernon Golf Club fired rounds of 80 and 86 for a 166 total, missing the 36-hole cut mark by only three shots.
Jim Ryan of Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club missed the cut by four after rounds of 82 and 85 for a 167.
Greg Betts of Vernon shot 88-84-172, four better than clubmate Michael A. Sheldon, who went 93-83-176.
Eric Hoffman of Predator Ridge made the cut with rounds of 77 and 81 for a 158 total, but withdrew from the event.
Former Hillview pro Lance Lundy, now of Pemberton, was in eighth place going into Thursday’s final round, nine shots back of the leader, John Gallacher of Burnaby.