By Claire Welsh
(RENFREW, ON) – A birdie on the first playoff hole sealed the deal for 15-year-old Grace St-Germain of Orleans, earning the Team Ontario member her second provincial title of 2013 at the Ontario Juvenile (U17) Girls’ Championship.
The Hylands Golf Club member set the pace early at Renfrew Golf Club, opening with a two-under 69 to stake her claim at the top of the leaderboard. That score would hold up as the best performance of the 54-hole tournament, giving her enough of a cushion to remain on top after posting a second round 76 (+5). She had to share the lead, however, with a tenacious Alyssa Getty of Leamington who made her move into a tie for the top spot as they teed up the third and final round.
St-Germain, who also won the Ontario Junior Girls’ Match Play Championship earlier this year, had to work to calm her nerves as she grappled with being at the top of leaderboard for the first time ever across a multi-day stroke play event.
"I was really nervous, when I won the Match Play I didn’t really have time to let it sink in," she explained. "This time I did, so it was really stressful. I tried to not think about it and just breathe."
St-Germain and Getty, a former Ontario Bantam Girls’ champion (2009), battled back and forth for the lead as they made their way through their final 18 holes, with the match drawing to a tight close as the pair made their way back into the clubhouse.
"On 16 I bogeyed and Alyssa birdied, so at that point we evened out again. Then when I birdied 17 with a six-footer, it kind of relaxed me a bit heading back in," said St-Germain.
Unbeknownst to the pair, a third contender had birdied her way into the mix, 16-year-old former champion (2011) Kennedy Bodfield of St. Catharines. The Rockway Vineyards Golf Club member, who is also the 2013 Ontario Junior Girls’ champion, dropped in a birdie on the 15th hole to move to +5 overall, paring the last three holes to slide into contention for her second title of the year.
Finishing a group ahead of the St-Germain-Getty pairing, Bodfield watched as St-Germain came down the 18th fairway at +5, setting the stage for a playoff, while Getty sat at +6. Needing a birdie to stay alive, Getty rolled in her putt from 12 feet while St-Germain dropped in for par, sending all three into a sudden-death playoff.
"I was kind of scared, thinking that now I had to go to a playoff with Alyssa (Getty)," said St-Germain. "Then in the scoring tent they told us that Kennedy (Bodfield) was coming too, so I was nervous."
Her apprehension certainly wasn’t evident to the large gallery of spectators that watched her confidently place her approach shot to six feet for a birdie opportunity on the first playoff hole. Bodfield knocked a flyer out of the sand well over the green to bogey the hole, while Getty dropped in for par, leaving one last putt between St-Germain and the Sandra Post trophy.
"I actually didn’t know that my shot onto the green was that close, although everyone was cheering," laughed St-Germain. "When I got up onto the green and saw it I said, ok, I can do this, it’s an easy putt."
"Standing over the putt though, I was really nervous. My legs were shaking. I was just thinking, I can’t miss this."
She nailed it – sending the crowd into loud cheers for St-Germain, who was also the local favourite this week. Her victory comes at the first major Ontario provincial championship held in the Ottawa Valley region, so it was a fitting close to have the Orleans resident come out on top.
"It feels really good," said St-Germain after hoisting the trophy. "It was nice to win close to home because there were lots of familiar faces, like some of the rules officials from the OVGA (Ottawa Valley Golf Association) events that I played in when I was little."
St-Germain closes out the tournament with a total score of 218 (69-76-73) and the gold medal, while Getty finished with rounds of 74, 73 and 71 to share second place with Bodfield, who posted rounds of 74, 73 and 71 to finish tied for runner-up honours.
Ending up tied for fourth place was St-Germain and Bodfield’s Team Ontario teammate Claire Hernandez of Palgrave. The 16-year-old carded rounds of 72, 76, and 74 to finish four strokes off the pace at 222 (+9). Also finishing in fourth place was Kingston resident and Cataraqui Golf and Country Club member Abbie Anghelescu, who delivered three solid rounds of 75, 72 and 75.
St-Isadore resident Estee Deschamps shared sixth place with Richmond Hill’s Jessica Ip at 230 (+17) while Oakville’s Annika Haynes rounded out the top eight at 233 (+20).
The Ontario Juvenile Girls’ Championship is contested biennially opposite the Ontario Summer Games and features the province’s best junior golfers under the age of 17 competing for the Sandra Post trophy. Past champions of the event include Post, Jessica Shepley, Alena Sharp, Stephanie Sherlock, and Rebecca Lee-Bentham. 2013 marks the first time that Renfrew has hosted the event, and it is the first of a number of major provincial championships planned for the Ottawa Valley region over the next several years.
The Golf Association of Ontario would like to thank the members, volunteers and staff from Renfrew Golf Club for the use of the course and their outstanding hospitality throughout the week.