Veillette claims Golfweek Canadian Junior title

Veillette claims Golfweek Canadian Junior title

Junior

Veillette claims Golfweek Canadian Junior title

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THORNHILL, Ont. – No longer subjected to being crashed into the boards or taking blind-side hits on the rink, Keaton Veillette is finding life as a competitive junior golfer to be not only a safer vocation but also one laden with success.

Veillette, who three years ago gave up a budding career as a hockey player to try his hand at golf, provided some validation for that decision by winning the Golfweek Canadian Junior Invitational Friday at his home course, Bayview Golf and Country Club.

“I was a defenseman at the Triple-A level, which is one of the highest levels here,” said Veillette. “My goal was to go to the NHL and I probably would have made it if the concussions weren’t there.”

Veillette claims to have suffered four concussions on the ice including “two big hits from behind . . . and the guys got suspended.” That was enough for Veillette and mainly his father, who is a surgeon, to try a new sport with more longevity and less pain. “He wasn’t fond of me getting concussions and being out of school and seeing me like that for multiple months.”

With just three years of competitive golf under his belt, Veillette is on his way to bigger things after firing rounds of 70-75—145 and a 4-shot victory over Luca Ferrara. The victory earned Veillette an automatic invitation to the Golfweek International Junior Invitational Nov. 4-5 in Florida, an event that will enable him to test his game against some of the world’s top junior players.

His opening-round 70 gave him a 2-shot advantage entering Friday’s final round and he never relinquished the lead. Clinging to a 1-shot lead over Ferrera through 14, Veillette’s bogey on 15 put him up by two then he went up by four with a birdie at the par-5 15th. That effectively put Veillette on cruise control.

Not even hitting one into the water at the par-3 17th would faze him.

“I tried to get it a little left of the pin, but it went a little higher and went left to right, so that’s probably my swing,” Veillette said. “I hit it pretty well, then the guy after me hit into the water and the next guy hit it into the bunker, then it was a simple up-and-down.”

After taking his drop, Veillette engineered his up-and-down for bogey more calmly than if he were firing a slapshot into an open net. The bogey kept him in comfortable position at 18, where he finished with a routine par.

Behind Veillette, Ferrara finished alone in second place with rounds of 72-77—149 while Michael Von Schalburg, the third player in the final group, shot 73-77—150 to finish tied for third place with Ishiria Fernando (77-73—150).

Michael Wu rounded out the top five with rounds of 74-78—152.

Having graduated high school, Veillette plans on taking a “gap” year with no school so he can focus on golf. His plans are to move in with relatives in California where he can play through the winter.

“I’ll practice every day then see what comes my way, try to get the best scholarship I can or if I have a good enough year try to play a couple of pro events.

“I started playing (competitive) golf late, so I’m kind of behind players in Canada. I’ve been able to do in two years what most players have taken five years so I’m pretty proud of it.”

Veillette will continue his competitive golf journey at next week’s Canadian Junior Amateur before taking a crack at the Canadian Amateur, two events he successfully navigated through qualifying rounds.

“My goal is to make the cut – a top 10 would be nice.”

Either way, Veillette showed this week at Bayview that no matter what crooked stick is in his hands, confidence is always high.

 

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