Ryan Vest of Vernon won the Pee Wee Boys title in the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour stop Tuesday at Predator Ridge Resort. (Photo Submitted)

Vernon’s Vest riding hot streak

Wins Maple Leaf Junior Tour stop at Predator Ridge

Vernon’s Ryan Vest is in a mid-summer groove on the Boston Pizza presented-Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour (MJT).

Vest, 12, won the MJT Pee Wee boys division title for the second-straight week at his home course Predator Ridge Resort, shooting a final-round 76 Tuesday after opening with a 70 for a 5-over finish. He reeled off five birdies in his first round.

There was a tie for second place between Joshua Ince, 12, of New Westminster (79-79-158) and Tate Bruggeman, 11, of Edmonton (77, 81-158).

Vest took the Pee Wee crown last Friday at the Okanagan Club in Kelowna with impressive scores of 69-72-141. Vest’s tournament highlight was on the eighth hole in the opening round, where, he explained: “I hit my tee shot to three feet, then made the putt for eagle.”

Runner-up in the division was Ryan Burns, 12, of Abbotsford, who shot 79-73.

Brandon Chai, 17, of Vernon, shot 71-72-143 to win the Junior Boys 17-18 crown in Kelowna by three shots over Justin Towill, 17, of Kelowna.

Chai, who knew where he stood going into the final hole, said: “I just wanted to play it safe and take out any big numbers. So I hit hybrid off the tee and played the hole safe which led to a two-putt par and the win. It feels great winning at my home course and I am proud to have won with so many good competitors, friends and family in attendance.”

There was a packed field of 91 at Predator, including the largest group of collegiate players so far this season.

Marcus Brown, 22, of Surrey, was on fire with scorching scores of 66-67 to repeat as MJT collegiate champion at this tournament.

“In the 18th fairway, I just did a checklist of all seven swing thoughts in my backswing,” said Brown. “This is my favourite course — best place on earth. It’s awesome to have a collegiate division and it’s always a fun experience with the MJT.”

His score of 133 totalled 9-under, a 14-stroke victory over Kurtis Fontinha, 22, of Penticton, who is a sophomore at the University of Northern Michigan. Fontinha was remarkable with rock-solid rounds of 71 and 76

Edmonton’s Kaiden Nicholson, 17, held on to his first-round lead and took the MJT Junior Boys title at Predator with 71-75 (146), enough for a three-shot victory over Shiv Kaura, 17, of Davenport, Fla. (76-73-149).

The Juvenile Boys title went to Nicholas Jenner, 16, of Castlegar, who closed out Matthew Pilgrim, 16, of West Vancouver, with a strong final round 74 to finish at 145. Pilgrim finished at 74-78-152.

Ryan Lee, 14, of Burnaby, ruled the Bantam Boys title by four strokes after firing back-to-back rounds of 75 in the 19-player strong division. Tied for second at 154 were Christian Hansen, 14, of Okotoks, Alta. (77-77) and Arlen Des Champ, 14, of Prince Rupert (73-81).

Prince George’s Natasha Kozlowski, 16, captured the Girls 15-18 Hoselton trophy by three strokes after shooting 74-87-161.

Kozlowski said she was pleased with her comeback hole on 14, as the first day she put her tee shot in the water.

“I then put an 8 iron to about 20 feet just off the back of the green and drained the put to save a bogey,” she said.

Runner-up was Vernon’s Kendra Jones-Munk, 16, who carded 86-78-164. The tournament was preceded by one of the MJT and Ford Canada’s initiatives to grow the game of golf with the Watkin Motors Ford Go Golf! Free Junior Clinic Sunday with more than 50 kids attending.

The MJT’s B.C. schedule now shifts back to the Lower Mainland for the major-ranked MJT Odlum Brown Classic – PGA of BC Junior Championship at Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey, Aug. 7-9.

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