Connecting on another level
Perhaps the biggest separation in the lives of Michael and Allan Pruss was the 10 minutes between their births.
The 18-year-old Red Deer twins have been mostly joined at the proverbial hip in their athletic ventures, and Tuesday afternoon at the Innisfail Junior Open, as part of the McLennan Ross Junior Golf Tour, they finished second and third, respectively, in the junior boys 1995-97 division.
Michael shot a 5-over-77 while Allan came in at 7-over-79 in the gross — Michael Harrison won the event with a 2-over-74. The net was even closer as Michael (five handicap) tied Harrison at even-par-72 and Allan (six handicap) shot a 1-over-73.
Their closeness extends to the hockey rink, where they played on different teams for the first time this winter — most of their life playing on the same line.
“People compared us (to Vancouver Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin), but I’d say we’re a little tougher than the Sedins,” joked Allan, the older of the two River Bend members. “We have that twin connection that most people don’t have.”
On the course, at least, there isn’t a lot of brotherly love. They compete against each other as much as they compete against anyone else.
The friendly rivalry has made them both better golfers.
“We’ve had matches going on forever, so it keeps it fun and competitive at the same time,” said Michael. “We learn things from each other and giving each other tips and tell the other one what we did wrong — it helped me become the golfer I am today by watching him and getting feedback from him.”
For Michael, this was his best finish of the season, also previously having a strong tournament in Lacombe last week.
But this was Allan’s first tournament of the season after breaking his wrist while playing centre for the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs.
Both plan to hit as many tournaments as they can over the course of the summer, including getting in a couple of rounds in the Dominican Republic as part of their graduation trip with their Notre Dame class.
The goal for the twins is to make a junior hockey team this fall. Michael, who played right wing with the Midget AA Chiefs last year, will be trying out for La Ronge Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, with a backup plan to play for the Beaver Valley Nighthawks in the Kootenay International Junior B Hockey League.
Allan, meanwhile, will be trying his luck first with the Olds Grizzlys in the Alberta Junior Hockey League before joining his brother in La Ronge if it doesn’t work out.
While physicality is not the name of either of their games, they will need to get bigger. Both are five-foot-nine while Allan weighs in at 160 pounds and Michael 155.
“I’d like to play college golf and hockey, that’s the ideal goal, so I’m going to do whatever I can to achieve that,” said Michael.
Next up for the twins is the McLennan Ross stop at the Carstairs Golf Club today.
Innisfail proved to be a huge test for the duo as the challenging course was in terrific condition with the sun beating down.
“It could have been a lot better, I hit it probably an eight out of 10, but I struggled a little on the greens, but at the end of the day it’s one of the better rounds, so I’ll take it,” said Allan. “The conditions were mint, the greens were rolling and the fairways were spotless.”
For Michael, there are a few shots he wishes he could have back.
“I knew coming in I would have a chance for the win, and if I played as good as I could have been right up there,” he said. “But I’m happy with second and Michael Harrison ... he played some great golf today.”
The rest of the field of 48 also struggled to master the grind of the course. It has long been one of the most difficult courses on the tour.
“It’s not overly long from the tees we play, but this is one of the tighter courses on the tour,” said tour executive Dunc Mills. “The kids that manage their games very well usually score very well. You can shoot some good numbers, we’ve had a lot of good scores over the years, but we’ve had some blow ups too.”
Also in the junior boy’s 1995-97 division was Rylan Barbyck (River Bend) at 87 and Bryce Kopec (Red Deer Golf and Country Club) at 89.
Red Deer’s Clare McMahon (Balmoral) won the junior girl’s division with an 87 followed by two Innisfail golfers Nikki Norlin at 94 and Brodie Pillman at 121.
Korbin Allen (Nearfield) won the junior boys 1998-99 division with an 82 while Rocky Mountain House’s Brandon Maxwell (Pine Hills) was second with an 84. Meanwhile, Jace Oulette (Innisfail) shot an 86, Jordan Williamson (Balmoral) a 92, and Paul Dutoit (Stettler) a 114.
St. Paul’s Justin Pasitney won the 14 and under boy’s division with an 81 while Sylvan Lake’s Tanner Smith shot an 85. Other Central Alberta finishers included Crater Graff (RDGCC) with an 88, Samuel Hamelin (Stettler) at 89, Tyler Watt (Innisfail) at 90, Johan Bouwer (Stettler) at 93, Sylvan Lake’s Jordan Cook (Lakewood) at 94, Cole Beirkheim (Balmoral) at 96, Chase Broderson (Lacombe) at 99, Denver Smith (Sylvan Lake), Taylor Dobbs (Innisfail) and Brendon Grabo (Lacombe) at 101, Jayden Callan (Balmoral) at 108.