BY BRAD ZIEMER
British Columbia Golf
THERE was a calmness about Jeevan Sihota in Sunday’s final round of the Future Links Pacific Championship at Chilliwack Golf & Country Club.
No final-round jitters were evident as Sihota played the last few holes and sealed his win at the first major junior tourney of the season. After all, Sihota is a seasoned veteran. Oh, and he just turned 13. And is in Grade 7.
“I’ve been in these situations lots of times,” Sihota said after carding a final round 67 to win by one shot. Sihota explained that he already has three world titles under his belt.
They were won at the ages of six, eight and 12 at U.S. Kids World Championship and Junior World competitions in Pinehurst, N.C., and San Diego. “I felt like I just stayed calm,” he said. “That was the key for me today. I putted really well at the end and hit the ball pretty well.”
Sihota finished the 54-hole tourney at 10-under par, one shot better than B.C. Junior Boys champion Tristan Mandur of Mill Bay, B.C. and Langley’s Khan Lee. Sihota closed with a four-under 31 on Chilliwack’s back nine. “I didn’t really get off to a good start with the putter, but I stayed calm and the putter got hot an the end,” Sihota said. “The putts started to fall and it was a good back nine.”
Sihota, who only just turned 13 this past March, is believed to be the youngest winner of a Future Links event. He is the latest Vancouver Island youngster to shine on a big stage. Last summer, Victoria’s Nolan Thoroughgood, then 15, became the youngest winner in the 114-year history of the B.C. Amateur Championship. Perhaps there is something in the water on Vancouver Island.
Sihota was introduced to golf by his dad Jas when he was four years old. “I actually started him off in baseball but he didn’t take a liking to it,” Jas said after watching his son win on Sunday. “It was his mom’s call.
I actually wanted him to play baseball, but his mom said we should let him try the sports he really wants to play. He was pretty quick to pick it up. I really truly think he only liked it because he didn’t have to share the balls with anybody.”
Jas said he and his wife just try to support their son in his love of golf. “We just keep letting him do what he’s doing. He is passionate about it, it’s really all in Jeevan’s hands, what he wants to do. Me and his mom can only be there for support.”
As impressive as Sihota’s round of 67 was on Sunday, his dad pointed to Saturday’s round of even-par 72 as being key. “I think he really won the tournament Saturday,” Jas said. “He only hit five greens yesterday and he got up and down 11 times out of 13. I think that is where he won it.”
Mandur, who is off to the University of Utah on a golf scholarship this fall, made it close when he birdied his final two holes. But Sihota, playing in the final group with Mandur and second-round leader Chandler McDowell of Springbrook, Alta., calmly two-putted for his par on the 18th green to seal the win. “I am feeling very proud,” said Mandur, who shot a three-under 69 on Sunday. “I mean, to finish birdie-birdie on the last day feels really good.”
McDowell, who began the day with a two-shot lead, had a roller-coaster round of even-par 72 on Sunday that included four birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey. That double came on the par 4 16th when he put his second shot out of bounds. McDowell finished alone in fourth place at eight-under par.
The top six finishers earned exemptions into this summer’s Canadian Junior Boys Championship in Kingston, Ont. Keaton Gudz of Victoria, who was fifth at seven-under par, and Carter Graf of Red Deer, Alta., who finished tied for sixth at five-under earned the final two exemptions. Graf won his spot by beating Aidan Goodfellow of Parksville in a playoff.
2017 Future Links, Driven By Acura Pacific Championship Results – JUNIOR BOYS DIVISION
1. Jeevan Sihota, Victoria, B.C., *67-72-67-206 (-10)
2. Khan Lee, Langley, B.C., *71-70-66-207 (-9)
2. Tristan Mandur, Mill Bay, B.C. *74-64-69-207 (-9)
4. Chandler McDowell, Sbringbrook, Alta., *69-67-72-208 (-8)
5. Keaton Gudz, Victoria, B.C., *71-70-68-209 (-7)
6. Carter Graf, Red Deer, Alta., *71-71-69-211 (-5) (P)
Thoroughgood and national development team member A.J. Ewart of Coquitlam both closed with four-under 68s to finish at three-under and tied for eighth place.
The Future Links Pacific tourney is the first of six regional junior championships presented in partnership with new title sponsor Acura. The event featured a field of 87 junior boys and 33 junior girls.