Johnny Travale of Bishop Ryan and his coach, Paul Altobelli, are both excited to have qualified for the Oct. 14-15 Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations golf tournament.
But for different reasons.
Travale, 14, will make his provincial high school debut in the individual player category after earning one of three berths during the recent Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championship at Beverly Golf and Country Club. As for Altobelli, after 26 years of coaching golf, volleyball and hockey at Bishop Ryan, the trip to the Kingsville course will mark his first-ever appearance at an OFSAA event.
There’s a buzz about Travale’s accomplishment around the school, too. Posters with Travale’s picture and information are posted at various sites in the building.
“His performance was awesome,” Altobelli said of Travale’s playoff victory at GHAC. “He played with composure and determination.
“Kids are starting to recognize who he is in the hallways. We’ve brought an awareness of golf to the rest of the student body.”
Travale was the lone Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association entrant to advance from the showdown with the Halton schools. Joining him at OFSAA will be individual players Kyle MacDonald of Oakville King’s Christian – he won GHAC by two strokes with a 71 — and Marcus Khaw of Burlington Corpus Christi.
King’s Christian College edged out the Bishop Tonnos Titans foursome of Andrew Pearson, Ryan Murphy, Dennis Weber and Michell Borer by one shot to win the team title and punch its ticket to OFSAA.
As a Grade 9 student, Travale let an OFSAA berth slip away in 2014 when he carded a double bogey, bogey, bogey on the final three holes at GHAC. That gave him a 5-over-par 75. But he wasn’t about to let that happen again.
“I was upset about losing by one (stroke) last year,” Travale said. “So I practised a little harder.”
This year at GHAC, he fired a 73 for 18 holes to tie for second place. However, he faced a three-hole playoff against two other players (Khaw and John Burghardt of Oakville Loyola, who also shot 73). Only two could advance.
Khaw birdied the first hole to guarantee himself one of the spots. And on the third extra hole – Beverly’s No. 18 – Travale nailed down the other. His 5-iron second shot from 210 yards landed just short of the green. From there, he chipped up and made his putt for birdie to eliminate Burghardt.
Said Travale: “I was lucky to get into the playoff after I messed up on the 18th hole (of regulation). I three-putted. It (a two-putt) would have given me a spot without the playoff.”
Travale has enjoyed success outside of high school competition, as well. Three months ago, he won the Investors Group Ontario Bantam (U-15) championship. He finished with a two-round total of two-under par 140 against of field of 56 competitors at the Sawmill Creek Golf Resort & Spa in Camalachie.
The 6-foot, 195-punder also captured the Canadian Junior Golf Association Mizuno National age-group title with a four-day total of 283 (3-under) last year at the Rockway Vineyards Golf Course in St. Catharines.
“He’s consistent and his game is so good,” Altobelli said. “He’s an outstanding golfer. He ended up first in our school board (series of HWCAA tournaments) this year and last year.”
Travale plays out of Hamilton Golf and Country Club where he received a special membership after being interviewed by HG&CC officials. He practised there almost every day during the summer when he wasn’t playing in a tournament.
“Usually,” Travale said, “you have to have a parent member at Hamilton Golf to be a junior member. But they waived that for me.”
Travale, who says he has developed a whole new swing in the last year and a half, knows some of the players whom he will be facing at the provincial high school showcase event.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” he said.