Brandon’s Colton Willms is into the junior boys’ semifinals at the Tamarack. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
WASAGAMING — Colton Willms hasn’t played a lot of competitive golf this season, but that isn’t preventing him from having his best Tamarack yet.
The 17-year-old Brandonite made the junior boys’ championship flight at the 80th edition of the golf tournament for the first time by shooting a 74 on Monday. He followed that up on Tuesday by advancing to the semifinals with a 2 and 1 quarter-final match play victory over Winnipeg’s Josh Zaporzan, who plays and works at the host Clear Lake Golf Course.
"It feels really good actually to get the first (win) and playing Tanner Kyle Thursday in the semis," Willms said. "It should be good, but I mean Josh and I had a great battle today. It went 17 holes and it was really back and forth."
Willms, who was seeded second after shooting a 74 in the qualifying round, jumped out to an early two-hole advantage. Zaporzan battled back to take the lead before Willms tied it up on the course’s third hole, which was the 12th of their round as they played the back nine first. Willms then won the final two to take the match, sinking a 10-foot putt to seal the deal.
"I just really wanted it, I guess," said Willms, who was knocked out in the second flight semifinals last year. "I knew going in that it was going to be a tough match because Josh is such a great player. But I knew (it was possible to win) if I could hold him off until the end and that’s what I did."
Willms’ success at Clear Lake means a lot to him based on how much he has played this year.
Despite playing about three times a week, Willms has only competed in two major junior tournaments this season. In June, he was 14 over par and finished sixth in the two-round Maple Leaf tour event in Winkler and followed that with a 13th place finish at a two-round MJT event the following week in Moose Jaw, Sask.
Since then, he’s been working and playing casual rounds. Despite the lack of tournaments, Willms felt he was prepared for the Tamarack.
"I’ve been playing really well all year," Willms said. "Seventy-four wasn’t a big surprise to me to qualify, but it was nice to get in there as the second seed, especially after last year. I didn’t have a very good go at it."
There weren’t any upsets in the junior boys’ championship flight matches, but all of them were close. Top seed Steve Young, from LaSalle, beat Brandon’s Tyler Turner 3 and 2, fourth seed Austin Dobrescu of Brandon topped Glenboro’s Zach Wytinck 3 and 2, and third seed Tanner Kyle of Elkhorn defeated Brandon’s Zach Whitecloud 2 and 1.
The semifinals will be played on Thursday.
After pulling off his first victory in the championship flight, Willms has decided not to change his approach.
"I’m just going to have to play conservative golf, not get ahead of myself and try to make some greens and some putts and if I can put one close and make a birdie, I’ll make a birdie," he said. "I think I’m just going to try to play par golf and see where it takes me."
CHIP SHOTS: To add insult to injury, Joel McPhail was forced to hand the guy who beat him a cheque right after their seventh-flight men’s match ended. McPhail recently bought a house through realtor Ryan Shields and, after suffering a loss to him on the golf course, McPhail gave Shields a cheque as a deposit for the house.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 21, 2013