It may not have been the prettiest match but in the end, 17 year-old Ashton McCulloch earned his spot as the winner of the 63rd Kingston Men’s City Golf Championship.
McCulloch, the victor at the 2019 Ontario Junior Boys’ Championship, defeated fellow Cataraqui G&CC member Clayton Presant on the 2nd extra hole at Garrison Golf & Curling Club on Monday.
McCulloch had about a 3.5 foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of regulation to close out Presant but drew a gasp from the spectators when it caught the right lip and made a sickly loop to stay outside the cup.
On the first extra hole both players put themselves on the green in regulation but neither could convert a birdie to gain the win.
On the 2nd hole, Presant, with the honours, pulled his tee shot left of the fairway behind a small tree on the par 4, while McCulloch found the fairway and played a fine approach to about 12 feet past the hole.
Presant had no line to the green and was forced to pitch to in front of the surface. From there he lobbed a shot short of the tricky hole location where a two-putt left his teen competitor with a couple rolls to earn the title.
Ashton cozied up the putt enough to prompt a concession and with that earned his first significant title in his hometown and his name on the Richard “Dick” Green Trophy.
“Yeah, so many good names on it,” said McCulloch of the hardware that honours the former Cataraqui professional, “especially with so many good golfers coming out of Kingston. It’s cool to be affiliated with them and to finally win a tournament within Kingston, especially such a big amateur tournament.”
In his third attempt at the title, one where he had not previously advanced past the quarter-finals, McCulloch was feeling a little more confident in his abilities this year.
“I played really solid yesterday. I didn’t play as good today but it was a little tougher conditions and I thought I handled myself well.”
That was important to McCulloch as he knew he was facing an opponent who had NCAA golf experience and was also a former club champion at Garrison.
“Yeah, I knew he was going to be solid: I knew he wasn’t going to give me any hole, I knew I would have to go out and take it. We both didn’t play as good as I know we were hoping to, but it was fun out there.”
McCulloch says he will close out his season with high school golf, a Future Links event in British Columbia, and then some college visits as he decides his future.
“It was not a great match for you guys to watch,” joked a slightly dejected Presant after the round. “Tying holes with bogeys; winning holes with pars, it was just not a sharp match,” related the former Limestone College golfer who said this was his third, second-place finish of the year. “It’s fun competing; getting that rush and it only happens when you are in the mix,” he said in consolation.”
As for his competitor Presant had praise for the new Kingston City Champion. “He’s solid; there are very few kinks in his game. He’s a great putter so when he was hitting lips I felt like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, dodging bullets. He’ll have a lot of fun in college golf, for sure.”