Several years ago, local golfers touted the talent of area youth golfer, Justin Wood, stating his potential for greatness.
It seems he has nowhere to go but up. For the second year in a row, Justin has earned a berth to the National Junior Golf Championship, this year being held in Nova Scotia in August.
Fighting off high winds July 4, Justin hit the course at Warman with one goal in mind. The 17-year-old needed par on 18 to win and was left with a 148-yard approach into the green with his third shot. Justin finished tied with Leighton Bearchell of Moose Jaw for second, which still advanced him to nationals.
“The first couple of holes were guessing games. I went on past experiences, because that’s all you can do (referring to his club selection of a six-iron, rather than the usual nine-iron choice),” Justin said.
“I just put a little too much spin on it and the rest is history.”
Justin also added, “It was so tough out there with that wind, making it a real grind. I was wind-burned and mentally tired.”
In fact Justin chuckled at the unflattering photo Saskatoon StarPhoenix photographer, Gord Waldner, posted in a July 5 edition stating Justin “was grimacing in wind.”
“He snapped that picture immediately after a huge gust of wind that blew sand in my face and I was trying to get some sand out of my golf shirt,” he explained.
“They suspended play the day before due to bad weather as we were called off the course twice during the day and after the second time, we never made it back on. This resulted in us resuming day three at 7 a.m. to conclude our second round.”
Justin now heads to the Willows in Saskatoon July 26 and 27. From there, he boards a plane July 29 with Team Saskatchewan to compete at nationals.
“I’m not going to change a lot of things in my game, just focus on minimizing the misses and controlling them,” Justin explains.
“I want to play shots that, if I happen to miss, it won’t leave me in tough spots. I will work very hard on my short game, because it is always a key on a tough course as you are not going to hit every shot perfect. Putting is a very key component of the game.”
Justin is being accompanied by his parents.
“(It) is great to have family support, although I don’t know how much I will see them as most of the days are spent with the team.”
A practice round is scheduled for July 30 and the event runs from July 31 to Aug. 3. The first cut will be on day two.
“I am very happy with the encouragement from everyone in the community, as well as many congratulations passed on with the kids I play with. We all want to win while we are on the course, but off the course we are good friends and that is a nice atmosphere to be involved in.”
Tee times and current scores are available at www.golfsaskatchewan.org.