The toughest putt Alicia Easthope ever drained was a five-footer for bogey on the 18th hole during the final day of the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour stop in Calgary.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking on the last hole,” said Easthope, the MJT Ford Series/PGA of Alberta Junior Championship female 15 to 19 division winner at the McKenzie Meadows Golf Club. “It was a pretty good feeling to sink it. I felt confident that I did well enough to at least tie or maybe win but I knew it was going to be really close.”
Easthope, 16, carded a score of 81 for a three-day total of 233 to finish one shot ahead of Rachel Ung of Calgary.
“She had a chance for birdie and I had to make my putt for bogey,” said Easthope of the dramatic finish. “I wasn’t exactly sure what she was shooting so it wasn’t until at the score table that I found out I had won by one.”
Ung, 17, shot an 82 and Emily Creaser, 18, of Edmonton recorded an 85 to finish 15 strokes back of Easthope at 248.
The trio were grouped together for the last round.
“It was a good experience to be in the leading group and to play under that pressure,” Easthope said. “Rachel was keeping my score but I was only keeping Emily’s score so I had no idea what (Ung’s) score was so I was nervous, especially because I kind of had a fallout the last two holes. I bogeyed both of them and she parred both of them.”
Easthope started the day tied with Ung at 152 but a chip-in on the 10th hole was a momentum shifter for the Grade 12 Bellerose Composite High School student and elite-level volleyball player.
“I started feeling a little bit more comfortable around halfway through the round. I think I was up by two or three and I just told myself to play consistent and go for par and play my game and not worry about what she is doing,” Easthope said.
The first win in five tournaments on the Maple Leaf Junior and Alberta Golf circuit was extra special for the Sandpiper Golf & Country Club member.
“It was an awesome feeling coming out on top because it was really, really close and just to know that I can do it also gives me confidence for my next tournament,” she said. “It was a really intense competition, especially going into the last day and we were tied up. It really taught me how to play under pressure.
“Obviously, I really wanted to win because I was on my game that week. My irons actually really helped me. I had lots of chances for birdie and pretty easy pars because of my close approach shots so that helped a lot. My putting was OK too but it wasn’t the best.”
Easthope opened the tournament with an impressive 74.
“That’s actually my best score in a tournament so I was really, really happy with how I played. I was five ahead of (Ung), which was a pretty good feeling going into the second day.”
The next day Easthope shot a 78 while Ung climbed back into contention with a slick 73.
“I was still actually pretty happy with the way I played, I just didn’t drop as many putts as I did the day before,” Easthope said. “She had an excellent day. I think that’s her best score. She played awesome.”
Last year’s Edmonton junior U16 female champion is pumped to continue her winning ways for the rest of the season.
“I just want to keep playing consistent because this was my first tournament shooting 70s two days so I just want to show that I can do that more often and just play more consistent and play my game in any tournament coming up,” said Easthope, who hails from a talented golf family that includes her dad Kevin, the head golf pro/general manager at the Sandpiper.
TEE SHOTS: Brody Eggleton, 14, of Sturgeon Valley won the bantam boys division with a score of 212 (76-67-69) off the bantam tees to finish eight shots ahead of Mason Harder, 14, of Lethbridge (79-73-68).
James Robillard, 17, of St. Albert was the junior boys division runner-up at 220 (76-75-69). The winner was Chris Murray, 19, of Calgary at 216 (72-72-72) on the strength of 13 birdies.