The next generation of local golf left no doubt that it had arrived at the Kitchen Creek Classic over the weekend.
Youth was served as 18-year-old Alex McDonald was crowned champion after edging 19-year-old Taylor Jorgenson, the 2008 Classic champion, on the first playoff hole Sunday afternoon.
The pair had finished the two-day tournament deadlocked at even-par 144.
Defending champ Colin Drombolis finished 10 strokes off the pace with a 154 in the tournament, which featured a field of 40 golfers.
McDonald and Jorgenson, who work together at the Heron Landing golf course at Couchiching, both drove their tee shots well on the first playoff hole, with McDonald landing just left of the 10th green while Jorgenson was several feet further left.
Jorgenson’s chip then came up short while McDonald chipped to with 12 inches of the flag.
After Jorgenson missed his birdie attempt, McDonald dropped his short putt for a birdie and the victory.
McDonald’s good fortune began at the coin toss prior to the playoff—and continued from there.
“I won the coin toss and I wanted to go first because I knew if I was knocking on the green, that would put more pressure on him,” he reasoned.
“That’s exactly what happened, I think.
“I hit mine on the fringe [while] he had a tough chip shot,” McDonald recalled.
“Taylor came short and I chipped it close,” he added. “Taylor came up short on his putt and I had just a [one]-foot putt.”
McDonald admitted to having his nerves acting up on the playoff hole, and even was worried about getting himself into trouble while trying to mark his ball after chipping onto the green.
“I heard my heart pumping,” he remembered.
“I had to be really careful not to move that ball because my hand was shaking.”
But McDonald was able to get himself in check and come through with the title on the line—sinking his short putt to earn the win.
“This is for the Classic. I felt pretty nervous there, but it went in the back of the cup so it felt pretty good,” he acknowledged.
It wasn’t McDonald’s first sudden-death experience given he faced off against Greg Ward at the Heron Landing men’s open last year.
He said he was determined not to blow it again after coming apart against Ward.
“Don’t three-putt,” he cracked in regard to what he learned from his previous sudden-death playoff experience.
Jorgenson, meanwhile, remained upbeat after settling for the runner-up slot for the second-straight year, noting that McDonald did what was required on #10—make the birdie.
“You’ve got to try to make threes,” Jorgenson stressed. “You’ve got to make your three. It’s a birdie hole.
“It’s a short hole and you’re just trying to make sure your ball’s in play,” he noted.
“That’s number one.”
Jorgenson said his drive on the playoff hole wasn’t right on target, but had hoped he could play himself out of it.
“I’ve played here enough times to know that it was fine,” he remarked. “It was just more left than I would’ve liked.”
Over the course of the weekend, McDonald was pleased with his driver, in general, doing well on hole one and carrying that through.
“I hit 16 greens today [Sunday] and I hit 15 yesterday [Saturday], so the whole game was just really good,” he enthused.
“Basically making it look easy, but it’s not.
“I was hitting my shot and [a spectator] said, ‘Boy, is he making it look easy,’ but it’s not easy,” McDonald stressed.
The putter also was working well for McDonald, who drained a few from decent distances, especially during Sunday’s final round.
“I had a seven- or eight-foot par putt on 16 and I made that,” he noted.
“I had a 10-footer for par on 17, and I made that, and I made a good putt on four.
“It was pretty much just a good day with the putter,” he said.
McDonald found himself in trouble on a couple of holes—one on Saturday and one Sunday—and credited his recovery to help propel him back into contention.
“Yesterday [Saturday] on 13, I was in the long stuff and I didn’t think that I’d be able to make it on the green,” he recalled.
“I put that chip shot probably 10 feet away. I didn’t make the putt, but I shouldn’t have made bogey on that hole in the first place.
“[But] my best up-and-down the whole tournament was on 11 today,” he added. “I put my tee shot left in the bush and I had to take a one-stroke penalty because I couldn’t hit the ball.
“I didn’t know how much break to put on it [the putt]. I put a good foot, foot-and-a-half break to it, and right when I hit it, it just went in.”
Jorgenson also felt his putter served him well on the first day, especially considering he was waiting for his drives to come around on the second day.
“I made an eagle on hole three the first day, that was a pretty long putt,” he recalled.
“I started hitting my driver a lot better on day two,” he assessed.
“I really liked the [drive] on 18 [on Sunday],” Jorgenson added. “I was feeling nervous, but I hit it right on down the fairway.”
The teens both were cordial when talking about each other, with McDonald speaking highly of Jorgenson, who acknowledged that his contemporary truly earned the win.
“He is a better player, that’s for sure,” lauded McDonald. “I guess I just played better than him these two days.
“Usually when we play together, he gets me by three strokes,” he added.
“There’s definitely no hate between us,” chimed in Jorgenson.
“I’m happy he won. He deserved it.
“He practices a lot, and eventually it’s going to pay off.”
After his victory, McDonald said he had high regard for the local golfing community, thanking co-workers Sheldon Kelly and Brian Johnstone for helping improve his game, and added that he felt support immediately after sinking the clinching putt.
“I had a good 20 people come up to me and congratulate me,” he enthused.