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HIGH ACHIEVERS: ‘Momentum-building round’ gives James Newton Spring Open amateur golf title


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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

If Forrest Gump was to head to the links one day, he may have this to say about the game: Golf is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Royal Ottawa Golf Club junior James Newton can appreciate that comment.

After training and developing his game from January to mid May in Florida and Victoria and having a solid third-place result to his credit in his only 2022 tournament, Newton entered the three-day Golf Canada Next Generation Pacific junior tournament in Nanaimo, B.C., last month.

A first-year Golf Canada national boys’ junior team member, Newton felt good about his game, but it didn’t translate onto the scorecard as he shot 78-73-79 for a 14-over-par 230 and tied for 14th place.

“One week before, I was feeling and playing well. I was confident,” Newton said in a phone interview Tuesday about his approach to the 54-hole tournament. “But it didn’t line up. There were a number of things that didn’t perform in my game.”


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But two weeks later, Newton, 18, entered the men’s amateur tournament during the Quebec Golf Spring Open at the Beaconsfield Golf Club in Pointe-Claire with no expectations. Simply, he wanted to restart his season with a fun round of golf.

On May 27, Newton selected another chocolate and this one turned out to be one of the best in the box.

After a slow, but still meaningful start on the front nine and a blistering back nine, Newton shot a three-under-par 68 and tied for the lead with Richelieu Valley’s Laurent Desmarchais, who marked birdie on the 18th hole for a matching 68.

In the playoff, Newton made an impressive green-side bunker shot and dropped a short putt for a birdie, which gave him the Spring Open amateur victory. Desmarchais couldn’t repeat his birdie effort on the 18th, settling for par and second place.

Jared Coyle of the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club tied for fourth in the amateur class at one-under 70.

“I hit the ball well on the front nine, but I didn’t score well. I had a couple of shots that were very mediocre, which didn’t help, but I felt solid,” said Newton, who had one birdie and two bogeys going out.

On his back nine, he was four-under from the 11th through 15th holes and came home with five birdies against one bogey.

“I brought it together. I hit quite a few fairways and a lot of greens. I was close to the pin and putted well,” he added. “It was a momentum-building round.”

As for the one-hole playoff, Newton lofted his sand shot within three feet of the pin and made his seventh birdie of the day a memorable achievement.

“I knew I had the game to win it and I knew I could win,” he continued.

Alongside professional champion Joey Savoie, James Newton (left) of the Royal Ottawa Golf Club was the amateur champion of Golf Quebec’s Spring Open. Photo: Golf Quebec

“I just wanted to play as well as in my round and tried to hit the green in two. I didn’t necessarily hit a good second shot, but I was able to get over it and putt my way to victory,” he told Golf Quebec. “We’ll take it.”

Newton returned to the Matt DeJohn Golf Academy in Palm City, Florida, in January to work on his game through mid-March, especially strengthening his wedge shots between 40 and 120 yards. He trained almost exclusively and played only one tournament, finishing tied for third at the 65th Florida Azalea Amateur with rounds of 70-69-68 for a three-under-par 207. He played as a junior in the open amateur field.

As a Team Canada member, he also attended two one-week training camps in Phoenix and then worked out with the national junior squad from mid-March to mid-May in Victoria.

He found the training and the camps helped him “grow my feeling and knowledge of the game and it’s better than hitting a ball indoors.”

Newton, who has been named the Ottawa Sports Awards golfer of the year for 2021, is planning a busy schedule with provincial, national and international qualifying and championship tournaments.

In the middle of August, he’ll head to Piscataway, New Jersey, where he’ll attend Rutgers University as a freshman to study business and play for the men’s golf team.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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