So how did Vernon’s Ryan Vest and his mom Laurie celebrate Ryan’s first-ever national golf championship victory at a course in Kissimmee, Fla., not too far from Orlando?
Dinner out? Tickets to Disney World?
Nope. They caught a flight home to the North Okanagan. Enjoyed airplane food and beverages and let sink in what the 13-year-old Grade 8 Vernon Secondary School student had just accomplished.
Vest scored the biggest comeback victory of the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour’s Boston Pizza National Championship presented by TaylorMade and Adidas Golf at The Reunion Resort in Kissimmee. The 2019 MJT Bantam Division Player of the Year fired the lowest single-round score of the tournament in any age group, a final round 7-under-par 65, to win the Canadian Bantam Division title by two strokes after entering the last round six strokes off the pace.
“I got the (Hoselton) trophy and then mom and I headed to the airport to catch our flight home,” said Vest. Canadian golf legend Lorie Kane presented the trophies to the winners in the seven age groups.
After opening with rounds of 79 and 72, Vest’s putter caught fire over the last 18-holes. He finished at 1-over 217.
“Everything was dropping from everywhere,” he said. “I felt that I had won after I had made my 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, and then making a 14-footer on the last hole was the icing on the cake.”
Vest, playing in the final foursome with Vancouver’s Aaron Huang and Saskatoon’s Thomas Danielson and Max Regier, started the last round on the third hole.
Runner-up Huang, 13, carded an incredibly consistent three rounds of 73 (219, +3) including five birdies and an impressive 41 total pars. Danielson, 14, placed third (79, 79, 78=236).
After he and his mom caught a red-eye flight to Orlando, Vest was able to get in a practice round before the tournament started. Jetlag probably played a factor in his opening-round 7-over 79, but he played better in Round 2. The plan for the final round, he said was to go out and enjoy himself.
“I just wanted to have fun, play my game and take things shot-by-shot,” he said. “To win the national championship by coming from behind feels very good. It was also great to have my mom there. She’s sacrificed a lot so I can play.”
Beside the Hoselton Trophy, Vest also won a pair of TaylorMade wedges. And he was thrilled to have a former pro like Kane present the trophy as he aspires to be a professional golfer.
Now that winter is here, Vest exchanges his clubs for a squash racquet, playing the court sport three-to-four times a week.
Canada’s number-one played Junior Golf Tour, the non-profit Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour, concluded its 21st season Sunday with the tournament in Florida. A record-setting number of 112 elite junior golfers qualified.
“The field attending shows that junior golf is thriving in Canada,” said Trent Matson, director of national operations for the MJT tour. “We are very proud to continue as the number-one played junior tour in the country and look forward to hosting everyone.”
Guest speakers at the event were legendary pro golf coaches Butch Harmon and Sean Foley.