The home course fans had all their wishes come true at the playing of the 2022 Ontario Women’s Amateur and Mid-Amateur Championships that wrapped on July 7 at the Loyalist Country Club in Bath, Ontario.
It all started the day prior when the mid-amateur players were front and centre as they completed their 54 hole championship.
Many eyes were on Augusta James to start the week and she delivered with a round one lead. James, the daughter of Loyalist Head Professional Geoff James, and a previous winner of the Ontario Bantam, Junior, and Amateur Championships, was returning to amateur golf after a stint as a playing professional. A wrist injury ended the pro career for the Epson Tour winner, but now as a manager of a golf course in Marysville, Ontario, she was rekindling her competitive fires.
Things did not go so smoothly in round two for James and starting the final eighteen she found herself as part of a three-way tie for second, five shots adrift of leader Hayley McCallum (Glencairn Golf Club).
McCallum carried a three-shot lead into the 54th hole, a par five, and it looked as if James’ effort to add to her provincial titles would fall short. Then the reason why you have to play all the holes appeared.
McCallum took an unfortunate double bogey while James blasted a 200+ yard shot to the green for her second, and then dramatically sank the 30+ foot putt for eagle. A complete reversal of fortunes and a single shot victory for an elated James. After the win she shared about her renewed love of the game and camaraderie she witnessed during the week, a very special one for the player who grew up at the course.
McCallum finished in 2nd alone while past 14-time winner Mary Ann Hayward earned the bronze medal for the week.
The following day the possibility of another home victory came by way of Loyalist member Carlee Meilleur, who headed into the final round of the 107th Ontario Women’s Amateur Championship with a four-shot lead after touring the course in 70, 72, 68 to start (-6).
That was already pretty heady stuff for Meilleur who only turned 14 years of age on June 18. (Sharing the same birthday as Paul McCartney she will remind you as a huge fan of The Beatles).
The teen had to fend off several contenders on the final day, but steady play through the opening nine (even par) had her in fine position coming home.
Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club’s Lucy Lin tried to mount a charge, getting within three shots of her senior (Lin is just twelve), but Meilleur would not have any part of that and went on a run of four birdies in a span of five holes (#11-#15) to solidify her position. While a blemish on the 17th hole ultimately kept her from a goal of 10-under-par, she was delighted by the win. She managed herself well throughout the round, right in line with what she expected.
Asked if she was nervous overnight with the lead at the prestigious tournament, she shared, “I definitely had a lot of thoughts going through my mind overnight but I knew I had to play boring golf today, and just play the game I had been playing the last three days. Everything turned out pretty good in the end, which I’m pretty happy about,” the teen from Lansdowne, Ontario said understatedly.
Knowing it is easy to get off track in pursuit of a win, Carlee said she kept reminding herself not to do so, choosing instead to adhere to her notes and shot plans for the round as it played out. At the same time ignoring the walking scorer and the board that showed where she was at compared to her playing partners. “Yeah, I don’t like looking at that stuff; I like playing my game and whatever happens in the end happens. You can’t change anyone else’s game so you don’t want to let that get in your head.”
Meilleur certainly didn’t and during her stroll to the win, always appeared to be razor focused. The only stumbles came in the from of the bogey on #17 and a loose second shot on the final hole, but otherwise she showed the calmness usually only reserved for a player with decades more experience. It was impressive triumph and possibly the sign of more to come for this young player.
“It means a lot,” she said when asked to reflect on the meaning of this victory, meeting her goal of trying to get her face on one of the past champion signs that traditionally lines the driveway leading into the host course. “It’s nice to have that accomplishment when you’re so young knowing that I have more years to play. I’m really happy.
Lin would finish in 2nd place alone while Xavier University golfer Erin Kim earned the third place bronze medal.
We have a full sit-down interview with Carlee Meilleur that will be featured shortly on an upcoming Flagstick Podcast.