Ontario junior girls champ talking repeat

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Ellie Szeryk has won the Ontario junior girls golf championship by a dominant 14 strokes. At 15, she still has three years left of eligibility at the event — and plans to return.

“I’m not a fan of the people who just play and say, ‘I already won so I don’t need to play it anymore’,” the Londoner said Friday at Elmira Golf Club. “I’m going to try to come back next year if I can and try to defend.”

Szeryk carded a final-round four-over 74 to finish with a four-day total of five-over 285. Her 68 on Thursday, which left her with a commanding nine-stroke edge, was a course record.

“No matter how much you lead, you’re still going to panic a little bit (on championship day),” she said. “It’s golf and absolutely anything can happen. But I wasn’t too stressed. I was trying to play the way I did (the first three days) and let it all unfold.”

She was more concerned about a family situation. Her grandmother, who always watches her play, wasn’t feeling well and had to be taken to hospital before tee-off.

“So it was a very emotional day,” Szeryk said. “I didn’t really have my mind in the right place, for sure, but she’s going to be OK.

“They had to drive back to London and my aunt met me on the last hole.”

Ellie wouldn’t have this opportunity if not for her grandparents. Metro Szeryk, her grandfather, grew up in Windsor before becoming a Hall-of-Fame fast pitch tosser and eventually settling in London.

Ellie uses the Forest City as her summer home base. She actually lives and goes to high school in Texas, and has dual citizenship.

When she’s up north, Metro often caddies for her. She doesn’t have a membership at any local club but frequents Highland.

“We’re primarily here (during golf season) and every now and then, we have tournaments in the States and fly back down there,” Ellie said. “I love playing up here. I’ve always been a diehard Canadian since I was a little kid and it doesn’t matter where I live, I’ll always love being up here.”

The victory earned her the right to represent Ontario at the inter-provincial competition at the junior nationals at Camelot Golf & Country Club in Cumberland, Ont Aug. 1-4.

But right now, she’s heading down south to work with her coach to train all week after qualifying last month for the U.S. girls junior championships, which will be held at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo., July 24-29.

“It means a lot because it’s a big, important tournament,” she said, “and I’m stoked to play in it this year.”

If she shoots to her potential, she could do some major damage there. Despite the massive margin of victory here, she felt she could’ve went much lower.

“I think I could’ve gone under par,” she said. “On Thursday, I did shoot 68 but felt like I could’ve easily gone five-under. (Friday), I left quite a bit out there, as well.

“That’s how everyone feels at some point, but this is definitely cool. I’m proud my hard work is starting to pay off.”

She finished in second place a year ago to Mississauga’s Chloe Currie at Loyalist in Bath, Ont., so she knew this was the next big step.

“I actually remember walking off last year,” she said, “and saying I really wanted to win this year.”

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