WOLF CREEK GOLF RESORT — When Cara Vanderham was called to the 15th tee for a playoff Monday, she wasn’t exactly bursting with confidence.
“I was actually quite nervous. I’m eating dinner and now I have to go into a playoff and I’ve never been in one before,” said the Innisfail golfer, who regained her composure and parred the first extra hole to win the girls crown in the McLennan Ross Sun Junior Tour championship.
“I just relaxed and hit a really good drive and was in the exact same spot as earlier today,” she said, referring to her tee shot that put her just below the hill and 120 yards out on the par-4 hole.
Vanderham pulled out an 8-iron and landed on the left side of the green.
Then, from 30 feet away, her birdie attempt travelled 10 feet past the hole, but she made the comeback putt to defeat Carolyn Lee of Calgary Valley Ridge, who like Vanderham covered the first 18 holes in 78 strokes, but then struggled in the playoff.
Vanderham finished second in the McLennan Ross Sun championship three years ago, but hadn’t fared well again in the season-ending tournament before this year.
“The last few years I haven’t played very well here, and this year I did,” she said. “This is really exciting and it’s kind of cool. Winning this in my last year of junior golf is kind of cool.”
Vanderham, who graduated from high school in June and now plans to spend the next year working and then travelling through Europe, also competed in the provincial women’s championship this summer and will eventually turn her sights toward securing a golf scholarship at a Canadian or U.S. college/university.
Emily Creaser of the Edmonton Derrick, Cassara Hung of Calgary Country Hills, Madison Krueger of Valley Ridge and Devon Spriddle of Lethbridge tied for third in the girls division with 84s.
Among the other Central Alberta golfers, Courtney Dickson of Innisfail carded a 102 and Clare McMahon of Red Deer Balmoral checked in with a 112.
Meanwhile, Tyler Saunders of Edmonton Glendale captured the boys title for the second straight year by shooting a 2-under 68. And yet, he wasn’t crowing about his accomplishment.
“I didn’t feel like I played great. I hit my driver really well and hit 15 greens in regulation, but I didn’t make any putts inside 10 feet,” he said. “I just kind of got the job done.”
Saunders said he’s not necessarily enamoured with the Wolf Creek layout despite his success on the Old Course over the past 12 months.
“I’m not exactly a big fan of it, but I guess I kind of have to be if I’ve won here two years in a row,” he said.
“Yeah, I’ve been able to come through here in the clutch . . . I’ve played well here when I’ve had to. I’m not a big fan of links golf, but the Old Course is fun.”
Saunders was threatening to tie the McLennan Ross Sun championship event record score when he came to his 17th hole at 3-under.
“But then I hit it over the green and into the fescue and couldn’t make par,” he said. “I just barely got my next shot onto the green and two putted from 50 feet for bogey.”
Bryce Melville of Barrhead carded an even-par 70 to finish second and Jesse Teron of Red Deer finished third with a 71.
“It was a good score considering the windy conditions,” said Teron. “I just made too many bogeys.”
Teron finished with five birdies, seven pars and six bogeys.
“It was kind of an up and down round, to say the least,” he stated. “Obviously, I came here to win so I’m disappointed in that respect. But it was a solid round of golf and I’m pleased with how I played. But I wanted to win.”
Matthew McCourt of Drayton Valley placed fourth with a 74 and Kevin Pieper of Edmonton Windermere and Travis Chorley of Jasper tied for fifth with 75s.
Other Central Alberta boys scores:
Austin Jacobson, Wolf Creek, 78; Brett Pasula, Red Deer, 79; Derek Morrell, Red Deer, 80; Brad Wiedmer, Lacombe, 80; Matt Codd, Red Deer, 82; Logan Gordon, Rocky Pine Hills, 82; James Ursulak, Ponoka, 83; Theo Olver, Three Hills, 83; Brett Vandenborn, Lacombe, 84; Chandler McDowell, Red Deer, 89; Lorne Baile, Ponoka, 89; Devin Cooper, Innisfail, 89; Logan Hill, Red Deer, 90; Andrew Kartusch, Red Deer, 90; Wyatt Johnson, Pheasantback, 90; Mikael Skaley, Ponoka, 90; Jaxon Lynn, Sylvan Lake, 91; Jeremy Rietze, Lacombe, 91.