LACOMBE — Michael Pruss knew what he had to do to continue to develop into the golfer he knew he could be.
“Course management was big and I understand how to play more efficiently . . . I’m a better ball striker and have matured as a golfer.”
That was evident Wednesday as the 17-year-old from Red Deer, who plays out of River Bend Golf Course, shot a solid 74 to win the McLennan Ross/Sun Junior Golf Tour stop as well as the Jordan Brand Memorial Lacombe Junior Open title.
Pruss’ understanding how to handle the lightning quick greens played a major role in his success.
“The greens are a lot faster than my home course and they were playing hard so I had to change my strategy a bit and run the ball up to the pin,” he explained.
The win was his first competitive title.
“It feels good. I was able to put together a consistent round, hit some good shots and make some crucial putts.”
Michael was the only player in the field of 56 to break 80. His brother, Allan, who won the Carstairs stop on tour Tuesday, was third in the division for players born from 1994-96, with an 82. Brandon Woltjer of Lacombe was second with an 80.
Neither Michael nor Allan played in this year’s provincial junior championship as they decided to enter more tournaments, like the McLennan Ross Tour events, and work on their consistency.
“We played in it last year, but this year we both decided to play these tournaments and get our confidence up,” explained Michael, who is heading into Grade 12 at Notre Dame.
He and his brother both hope to play for the high school golf team.
“We went to provincials last year and we should have a good team this year with Brett Pasula on the team as well,” he said.
Michael Pruss knows golf will be an important part of his life down the road and could look at playing at the college level after next year. But he isn’t about to give up on hockey.
The brothers played midget AA last year and Michael hopes to make the two-time defending national champion midget AAA Chiefs next season.
“I’ll get a chance to tryout,” he said. “It will be special if I get there. I’ve been working hard and if everything goes well I have a chance.”
He’s been thinking about what his future holds in the two sports.
“I’m not sure what route to take . . . whatever opportunity comes I hope to take advantage of it. I do know golf will last me a lifetime and I’ll stick with it and keep improving and see where it takes me.”
To continue to improve his golf game, and hockey for that matter, Pruss knows he needs to continue to get stronger.
“It’s a matter of maturing, getting bigger and stronger,” he said. “I’ll work on that.”
Alex Phillip of Wetaskiwin and Derrick Morrell of Red Deer shot an 83 with Ryan Skoreyko of Lacombe at 84 and Andrew McLennan of Lacombe a 93.
Kieran Rost of Stettler won the born in 1997-98 flight, with an 80 with Ryan Morrell of Red Deer, Jaxon Lynn of Sylvan Lake, Nathan Schmidt of Barrhead and Grant Numrich of Red Deer at 83.
Brandon Maxwell of Pine Hills in Rocky Mountain House had a 90 with Ethan Rost of Stettler at 91.
Brock Chelle of Edmonton’s Derrick Club and Korbin Allan of Strathmore shot 81 to lead the the born in 1999 and later flight.
Jordan Cooke of the Lakewood Golf Resort of Sylvan Lake came in with an 86 while Justin Paarup of Red Deer shot an 88. Chase Broderson of Lacombe had a 92, Ethan Meding of Innisfail a 94, Mathew Kinash of Red Deer a 95, Tyler Watt of Innisfail a 96, Erik Rost of Stettler and Tyler Masko of Lacombe a 98 and Adam Sandstrom of Red Deer a 99.
Innisfail’s Courtney Dickson won the girls’ title with a 95, four strokes ahead of Clare McMahon of Red Deer’s Balmoral Club.
l Michael Pruss was third in the Carstairs event with a 78 while Theo Olver of Three Hills came in with an 83, which placed him fourth in the older group.
Maxwell had an 88 and was sixth in the born in 1997-98 division while Jace Oulette of Innisfail shot an 87 and was third in the youngest group.
McMahon had a 91 and was third in the girls’ division with Jenna Weesen of Olds fifth at 99.
The next stop on tour is Monday in Ponoka.