It might have been the longest 45 minutes ever for Ottawa junior golfer James Newton.
By the time the final group had putted out, though, the 15-year-old Nepean High School student had won the Junior Honda Classic’s 14-15 age group championship in West Palm Beach, Fla., by one stroke over Ireland’s Brandon St. John.
After starting the final round tied for 10th at six over par, four shots off the lead, Newton fired a 1-under 71 on PGA National’s challenging and windy Fazio course on Sunday for a two-day total of 149.
“I was standing by the leaderboard, watching all the scores come in,” Newton said. “It was a pretty long wait. I didn’t really think my (second-round) one-under was going to get me through until I saw I came out on top. I was really happy when I found out one-under did the job. This is very big for me. I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet and I don’t know how long that’s going to take.”
Newton said he had struggled with his wedge play and had spent a lot of time working on that in recent months. He’s coached by Derek MacDonald, head pro at The Marshes, and in Florida he has worked with Mike Berger at the Club Med Academy.
As a champion, James is invited to the closing awards ceremony of the of the Honda Classic PGA Tour event on March 3.
“That’s a really big deal,” Newton said. “Maybe I’ll get to meet a couple of PGA Tour players.”
Newton, who began playing at Smiths Falls Golf and Country Club, is a member of the Ottawa Valley Golf Association’s Junior Development program, and his home course is Royal Ottawa..
Age-division champions from the Junior Honda Classic also receive invitations to the 2019 IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego in early July.