Burlington’s Difrancesco takes Maple Leaf junior tourney

A number of Hamilton area players came away from the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour stop at London’s Forest City National Golf Club with strong finishes over the Canada Day weekend.

Cambridge’s Brent McKenzie claimed the Junior Championship, part of the national series of Canadian PGA Zone Junior Championships, which showcased the skills of Ontario’s top junior golfers, and was also a qualifier for a spot to the 2008 China Junior Open during the two-day tournament.

McKenzie, 15, of Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, carded 77-76 (153) to win low overall score for the field and the MJT-Ontario PGA Junior Boys 14-16 title.

Meanwhile, Burlington’s Paula Difrancesco, 17, playing out of Within Range Golf Centre, managed to edge Whistle Bear Golf Club’s Meg Pototschnik, 16, of Stratford, by one stroke to claim the girl’s crown.

“Key to my win was playing one shot at a time and not concerning myself with my score,” said Difrancesco, who fired 80-83 (163) to Pototschnik’s 83-81. “Going through my mind coming down the stretch was to play with good course management, and keep the ball safe.” Third place went to Megan Whelan, 16, of Ingersoll Golf Club in Ingersoll (105-102).

McKenzie echoed similar thoughts.

“My key to victory was getting off to a solid start and leaving myself room for error,” said McKenzie, who has just come off another solid finish at the 55th East Aurora International Junior Masters in New York State, after again qualifying through the MJT.

A powerful finishing round of 69 from David Mathers, 16, of Kitchener, who plays out of Westmount Golf and Country Club, just failed to edge McKenzie, leaving Mathers to settle for runner-up in the division (85-69=154). Third place went to Taylor Prilisauer, 15, another Cambridge player from Whistle Bear Golf Club, who shot 81-78 for a 159 total score.

Johnny Hall, 18, of Langton, fired rounds of 79-75 (154) to beat runner-up Brett Nymeyer by three strokes and win the MJT-Ontario PGA Junior Boys 17 and up Champion’s title.

The MJT-Ontario PGA Junior Boys 13 and under champion was Wade Chen, 12, of Toronto, who carded rounds of 81-76 for a 157 total, winning by five strokes. “

The Mr. Lube Long Drive Competition winners in each division were Sean Carlino of Hamilton, Andrew Smith of Kitchener and Rockway Golf Club, Tyler Veres of Tillsonburg and Ingersoll Golf Club and Difrancesco. The Sundog Skills Competition divisional winners were Jordan Williamson of Cambridge and Whistle Bear Golf Club, McKenzie, Ben Deignan of Cambridge and Galt Country Club, and Difrancesco.

The MJT’s Ontario circuit has two more stops this summer – July 19 and 20 at Willow Valley Golf Club in Burlington, and the final is the three-day MJT Ontario Tour Championship at Grand Niagara Resort in Niagara Falls on Aug. 13-15. For more information or to register, please visit www.maplejt.com or call 1-877-859-4653.

The non-profit Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour (MJT) is presented by Boston Pizza, and is Canada’s premier and only national junior golf tour run exclusively by Golf Professionals. The MJT is proud to play a role in developing young players, including several Canadian National Champions and many Future Links and Provincial Champions. The MJT is also focused on providing opportunities for young Canadians to learn how to golf and introduces players as young as four years old to the game via free instructional clinics. In addition, the MJT encourages young players to further their education with scholarship awards.

Scores of other area golfers includes:

Boys 13 & Under

Robert Bennett, 12, Cambridge, Whistle Bear,, (91-82), fourth; Stephen Hiff, 13, Cambridge, Galt CC, (86-90), fifth; Jordan Williamson, 13, Cambridge, Whistle Bear, (101-95), eighth; Sean Carlino, 13, Hamilton, (85), withdrew.

Boys 14-16

Brad Burgess, 14, Caistor Centre, Whistle Bear GC, (80-80), fourth; Jacob Ohania, 15, Winona, Glendale G&CC, (82-80), fifth; Mike Rizzetto, 16, Brantford, Paris Grand GC, (80-82), fifth; Brandon Pearce, 17, Cambridge, Whistle Bear, (89-82), seventh; Ian Fowler, 14, Cambridge, Galt CC, (93-81), 12th; Robert King, 15, Cambridge, Whistle Bear, (91-86, 15th; Jordan Ryan, 15, Brantford, Brantford G&CC, (90-88), 15th; Dylan Smallwood, 14, Cambridge, Whistle Bear, 14, (94-90), 18th; Joshua Richard-Monro, Oakville, 14, (97-94), 20th; Taylor Burg, 15, Campbellville, Rattlesnake Point GC, (103-90), 21st; Jay Doherty, 14, Cambridge, Galt CC, (96-97), 21st.

Boys 17 & Up

Ben Deignan, 18, Cambridge, Galt CC, (84-77), fourth; Daniel Difrancesco, 19, Burlington, Hidden Lake GC, (83-78), fourth; Eric Edelman, 17, Paris, Paris Grand G&CC, (89-76), seventh.