Jack Simpson Wins Ontario Bantam Boys’ Championship in Exciting Six-Hole Playoff Finish
Seaforth, ON – A marathon six-hole playoff was needed to determine the 2013 Ontario Bantam (U15) Boys’ champion at Seaforth Golf Club on Wednesday, and when the last putt dropped 14-year-old Jack Simpson of Toronto emerged as the winner.
Simpson battled back and forth throughout the final round alongside Oakville’s Damon Crane, 14, with the pair teeing up the 18th hole tied at five-over par for the tournament. After both parred the final hole, they moved back to the par 4, 361-yard 9th hole for what was expected to be a short sudden-death playoff. That wasn’t the case however, as the boys kept matching each other’s pars and heading back to play the ninth hole over and over again.
“The longer it went, the more pressure I felt,” said Simpson of the playoff, which was contested in front of a large gallery of spectators that continued to grow as word of the exciting finish spread throughout the course. “It was quite tiring.”
After struggling on multiple attempts to find the green on his approach, Simpson made some brilliant wedge shots to keep the pressure on Crane and the playoff alive. Finding himself below the slightly elevated sloping green, he chipped up and left his ball right on the lip on the second playoff hole, tapping in for par while Crane two-putted. An almost identical situation played out on the third hole from the same lie, with Simpson hitting the flag this time, unable to drop it in for birdie. On the fourth hole, he made a nice recovery after knocking his approach well over the green into the grass next to the bleachers full of spectators, skipping his ball down to within 10 feet.
“All throughout the tournament I wasn’t chipping the ball very well, and I didn’t putt very well throughout the round,” said Simpson of his short game. “So guess (in the playoff) my strengths became my weaknesses and my weaknesses became my strengths. I think it really put the pressure on Damon, and it saved me.”
Finally, on their sixth attempt, Simpson stuck his approach shot to five feet, dropping in the only birdie of the playoff and closing out the tournament as the 2013 champion.
“I knew it was probably going to be my only opportunity to have a birdie putt so I was just trying to put myself in the right position mentally, and on the green,” he explained.
The battle to the finish made it clear that Simpson and Crane have a promising future in the sport, with both young players able to stay composed, and smiling, despite the pressure of the playoff.
“Damon (Crane) was one of the nicest kids I’ve played with, so all throughout our round and the playoff we were laughing and joking with each other, so that was nice to have him there,” said Simpson.
“(The win) means a lot, that’s really all I can say. It was tough, and Damon put up a good fight.”
Simpson picked up the James H. Peacock trophy and the gold medal, closing out the tournament with a final score of 147 (72-75). Crane earned runner-up honours and the silver medal after delivering rounds of 73 and 74, also for a total score of 147.
Finishing in third place was 14-year-old Anthony Occhiuto of Guelph. The Cutten Fields member carded rounds of 74 and 75 to finish two strokes back of the co-leaders at 149 (+4). Two golfers tied for fourth place; Sean Trapp of Janetville (77-73) and Aidan Gavey of Caledonia (74-76) who both finished with total scores of 150 (+8). Rounding out the top six was Nicklaus Naumovski of Brampton who closed out the event at 151 (+9).
The Ontario Bantam (U15) Boys’ Championship is contested annually and features Ontario’ best golfers age 15 and younger. 2013 marks the first time the event has been hosted by Seaforth Golf Club, and the Golf Association of Ontario would like to thank the Doig family and all the staff, members, and volunteers from Seaforth for their outstanding efforts in hosting the championship.