Shaye and Daria Leidenius have never had to look far for competition on the golf course.
The 17-year-old Ponoka twins have just had to look to each other.
On Monday at the Central Alberta High School provincial golf qualifier at Alberta Springs, the two dominated the leaderboard — Daria finishing first at 9-over-81 with Shaye three strokes back in a tie for third with Innisfail’s Courtney Dickson. Notre Dame’s Clare McMahon finished in second with an 11-over-83.
“We are pretty competitive, we try to beat each other all the time,” said Daria. “It’s good to have someone there to golf with and be close with on the course. If you’re having a bad day you have someone to lean on to help get your spirits back up.”
They have battled back and forth all season and will now have one more chance to see who is better at provincials in Bragg Creek on Monday and Tuesday at River Spirit Golf Club and Redwood Meadows Golf and Country Club.
This time, it just happened that Daria came out on top.
“I just played good shots, I was really happy with how I was plying the course — I screwed up a couple of shots, but overall I was pretty happy with how I played and it was nice to win it,” she said.
It has been a successful year for the twins who competed on junior tours throughout Alberta and were always in contention.
“It’s been really good, I have been playing probably the best golf of my life this year, hopefully it keeps up,” said Shaye.
The twins are in Grade 12 this year and are just now starting to turn their attention to tracking down college or university scholarships, a strong finish at provincials will go a long way towards that push for scholarships, though they may take next year off.
While they would like to be at the same school, it’s not a requirement.
“It would be nice to be close to each other but if we’re separate, that’s what it is,” said Daria.
The Alberta Springs course was in great condition on Monday with temperatures reaching 28C. It made for some competitive play, with tricky greens proving to be the biggest challenge.
“It was in great shape, nothing to complain about, it was a little hot out there but you play through it,” said Shaye.
H.J. Cody School’s Jaxon Lynn won the boy’s division with an even-par 72, besting a pair of Hunting Hills golfers — Grant Numrich (1-over-73) and Bryce Kopec (5-over-77).
Lynn spent the day scrambling to stay in contention and needed a three-putt from Numrich on the 18th hole to win.
“It turned out well, I didn’t play too good — no putts dropped and I kind of just scrambled all day,” said Lynn.
Still he likes where his game is heading into provincials next week.
“I have been playing good lately, I think my last three rounds combined have been 12-under-par,” he said. “I just need to work on hitting my driver straighter and I’ll be fine, because apparently the course we are playing is fairly tight.”
Innisfail High School won the girls team title with a 267, beating Lacombe (308) and Notre Dame (318).
Hunting Hills ran away with the boy’s team title, shooting a one-over-217, followed by H.J. Cody (236) and Camrose (249).
Hunting Hills goes into provincials with a strong opportunity to win it all. Also on their team is Logan Hill who competed at junior nationals in Niagra Falls, Ont., this summer along side Lynn, but had an off day on Monday, though he finished strong with an eagle on 18.
“It’s really big for us, we have a couple of Grade 12s on our team this year so that helped a lot, we’ve been out practicing at Lakewood and I think that showed today,” said Hunting Hills golf coach Dylan Winnicky. “If we play as a team (at provincials) and fire it like we did today, we have a great shot.”
According to tournament director Dale Henderson, the Notre Dame golf coach, the region consistently produces some of the high school golfers in the province.
“Between Hunting Hills, Lindsay Thurber and ourselves, we’ve each one a gold medal at provincials twice over the last 15 years or more, Ponoka’s won medals, one of our teams is regularly in the medals,” he said.
Henderson adds that McMahon has the potential to make a podium run next week after a terrific summer season.
“It’s a two-day tournament at two different courses, so I think it evens the playing field for some kids. I think Clare has every possibility of getting a medal there if she plays to her top end next week,” he said.