Griffiths rolls to third place

It’s been an interesting month of May for Red Deer’s Zak Griffiths. After spending most of the winter in the United States, the 16-year-old returned home and has been on a roll on the junior golf scene.

Brett Pasula of Red Deer plays on the third green during the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour action at the Lacombe Golf Club on Saturday.

LACOMBE — It’s been an interesting month of May for Red Deer’s Zak Griffiths.

After spending most of the winter in the United States, the 16-year-old returned home and has been on a roll on the junior golf scene.

He tied for fifth in a Canadian Junior Golf Association (CJGA) event in Calgary the opening weekend in May, then won a CJGA stop in Saskatoon the following weekend.

Sunday he placed second in his division and third overall in the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour Brandt Levers Memorial at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club.

“Since I’ve got back from the States it’s been going good,” he said. “I played a lot, and learned a lot down there and it’s helping me here.”

The only negative came in Saskatoon.

Despite the win he traveled to the Northern Saskatchewan city to see his grandmother. But she passed away just before he arrived.

“She was diagnosed with cancer while we were gone, so that made it tough,” he said. “But I played for her and it worked out. You have to be able to forget about everything during the round.”

Griffiths spend over four months in Palm Springs and Hawaii with his father during the winter, working on his game, both on the practice range and in tournament play.

“I travelled all over California playing in tournaments, so that certainly helped,” he said. “I had some top 10 finishes, so I played OK, plus I could see improvement in all aspects of my game, including my putting, although it didn’t show this weekend.”

It was the second year in a row Griffiths spent part of his winter in the States. Last year he was in Hawaii for over a month.

“After last year we decided to spend more time this winter down south,” he said. “Schooling worked out and of course it helped my golf. It’s something we’ll continue to do as it works out travelling and using the computer to get my schooling.”

Griffiths took his Grade 10 via the internet. He will be spending most of his summer in Canada, although he still has three junior events on his schedule across the border. He’ll attend tournaments in New York, Denver and Kentucky in June.

“The more I can play down there the more exposure I get as I want to get a scholarship,” he said. “Plus it helps me develop.”

Griffiths will play in whatever junior events he can in Alberta, including the CJGA stop at River Bend Golf Course, May 30-31.

Griffiths was tied for the lead after an opening round 69 Saturday, but shot a 78 in the wind and cold Sunday.

“It wasn’t bad, but I just didn’t putt well,” he said.

“The wind didn’t help and the greens weren’t great, but it was the same for everyone. The putts didn’t go in, but I can work on that.”

Griffiths came in at 147, four strokes back of Riley Fleming of Airdrie in the boys’ 14-16 year-old division.

Riley, who had rounds of 69-74, qualified to compete in the Kingdom of Fife matches in St. Andrews, Scotland in August.

Spencer Dorowicz of Olds was third in the division with a 154 total following rounds of 80-74. His highlight came Sunday when he had a hole-in-one on the 142-yard, par-three, third hole.

He followed that with a double bogey.

“It didn’t matter, I was so excited to make a one on No. 3 that I shanked it right on No. 4,” said the 15-year-old Dorowicz in a press release.

“But I got it together after that and played really well to the finish.”

Sang Gyun Lee of Calgary took the overall and the 17-19 year-old division titles with a 140 total, following rounds of 69-71.

Jason Thiels, 18, of Olds tied for seventh in his division with a (79-79) 158 total while 18-year-old Mathew McDonald of Olds came in at (86-76) 162 and Nolan West, 17, of Rocky Mountain House, finished at (83-84) 167.

Brett Pasula, 12, of Red Deer was third in the 13-and-under division with a (84-87) 171 total, 21 strokes back of Patrick Murphy of Crossfield while had rounds of 76-74.

Becky Martin of Medicine Hat won the girls’ title at 164 with rounds of 84-80.

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