Vernon’s Ryan Vest tees off at the U.S. Kids Golf Invitational last week in St. Lucie

Vernon’s Ryan Vest tees off at the U.S. Kids Golf Invitational last week in St. Lucie

Vest heats up in Florida

Vernon's Ryan Vest earns share of third place at U.S. Kids Golf Invitational last week in St. Lucie, Fla.

Hot temperatures brought out the best in Vernon’s Ryan Vest in the U.S. Kids Golf Invitational Tournament last week in St. Lucie, Fla.

Vest, competing in the Eight and Under class, carded a 2-over 39-35-74 to share third place with Jose Raul Carrillo of San Pedro, Mexico at the PGA Golf Club’s Ryder Course.

Sihan Sandhu of Ashburn, Virg. won by shooting 37/29-66, while Asher Joseph of Melbourne, Fla. was runner-up at 36-36-72.

Vest, who is in Grade 3 in the Montessori program at Silver Star Elementary, earned Green Priority Status by placing third.

Players receiving Green Status have the highest priority for all U.S. Kids Golf tournaments, good for one year.

He receives an automatic invitation back to the 2015 U.S. Kids Golf World Championship Tournament held in Pinehurst, N.C., and the 2015 European Championship in East Lothian, Scotland.

This was Vest’s third U.S. Kids Golf tournament. He finished in a six-way tie for 72nd place at the World Championship in Pinehurst in August, a tourney hampered by heavy rains and wind.

There were players in his age catetory at the Ryder Course, named in honour of Samuel Ryder, the namesake and founder of the Ryder Cup, the pre-eminent event in golf.

With its rolling hills, majestic pine trees and challenging water hazards, the Ryder Course has a distinctive Carolina-feel.

Vest’s 35 on Sunday was the second best of the day playing the back nine. He was even par heading to the par-4 18th hole.

“I really wanted to make birdie and finish the round and the tournament being under par,” said Ryan. “I was on in two but left myself a 25-foot uphill putt. I hit my putt a little too hard but it was right on-line. The ball hit the back of the cup, popped up and then dropped down for a birdie. I knew that it was a long shot but I so wanted that birdie so I just hit it hard and went for it.”

Said his dad and caddy, Jeff Vest: “What a moment. It was so exciting to see and hear the crowd’s cheering and Ryan responding quite fittingly by way of a full fist pump action in celebration. It was another great experience among his peers on such a beautiful golf course.”

Ryan’s mom Laurie, making sure he was eating nutrionally and drinking lots of water, added: “We love and support Ryan 100 per cent and our family is so proud of Ryan and his hard work and accomplishments thus far and we are so looking forward to his 2015 golf season. Thanks to Vernon for all their generous support.”