By Martin Cleary
Some sports have a distinct feature called a Triple Crown.
Thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown may be the most familiar with owners, jockeys and horses trying to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in one year.
In Major League Baseball, a player wins the Triple Crown if he has the best batting average, most home runs and the most runs batted in for a single season.
It’s much the same in the NFL as the player with the most receptions, receiving yardage and receiving touchdowns is hailed as the Triple Crown winner.
But to achieve that level of greatness takes those individuals several weeks or many months over the course of their athletic season.
Meet Ann-Sophie Bourgault, the sporting world’s latest Triple Crown achiever.
She was elevated to Triple Crown status on the Quebec women’s amateur golf scene Wednesday based on her exceptional play over three consecutive days.
The Royal Ottawa Golf Club member, who spends eight months of the year as a high school student and aspiring golfer in Naples, Florida, went this week to the Lac St-Joseph Golf Club in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier with one goal in mind – win the Quebec girls’ junior title, which slipped away from her in 2022.
But she overachieved and finished the Quebec women’s amateur golf championships, which decided four champions, with not one, not two, but an astounding three titles.
She was far too young to win the other title, which was for senior women.
At only 16, Bourgault, who spends her other four months of the year in Gatineau to plan local, provincial and national tournaments, was eligible to have her scores count in the juvenile, junior and amateur women’s standings.
At the end of the 54-hole championship, she certainly stood alone on top of all three standings as the Quebec juvenile, junior and women’s champion. Bourgault hit pinpoint shots over three rounds to become a Triple Crown winner.
Quebec golf officials presented Bourgault with the three traditional trophies – she only gets to keep her three gold medals – after she finished with a six-under-par score of 210 from rounds of 71-72-67.
There were only three signed scorecards with under-par scores during the championship and Bourgault posted two of them. In her 54 holes of play, she managed 14 birdies, six bogeys and one double bogey.
Bourgault entered her final round with healthy leads in all three categories and signed off with the best round of the championship. Her third round score of five-under-par 67 included six birdies and one bogey.
“To win all three is definitely really amazing. It doesn’t happen often. It’s an extra bonus,” said Bourgault, who did some research and discovered her role model Celeste Dao, a Quebec golfer at the University of Georgia, was the only other player to previously achieve Triple Crown status in 2017.
Bourgault, a six-stroke winner at Golf Canada’s NextGen Western Championship in Athabasca, AB. in June, was pleased with all aspects of her game during the championship.
“A lot of it was mental,” she explained in a phone interview as she returned to her Gatineau home. “My mental side was in a good place. I wanted to be patient and focused on each shot, one by one and one round by one round.
“It (shot making) was really good and consistent for three days.”
Bourgault, who was adopted as a 10-month-old baby in China by her Canadian parents Stef Bourgault and Kelly-Ann Jackson, attends a golf academy/high school in Naples, Florida, and has a coach and personal trainer. She has developed her game in the south ever since she attended a summer golf camp six years ago in Tampa.
“There was a bit of pressure because of my top ranking,” she said in a Quebec Golf press release. “Last year, I was leading the tournament, too, but it didn’t end very well. This year, I just wanted to come back and beat my score.”
Well, she beat everyone’s score in all three age categories. She won all three titles with double-digit margins of victory.
She achieved her primary goal of winning the girls’ junior title and was 18 strokes ahead of St-Raphael Club runner-up Leonie Tavares, who fired rounds of 75-76-77 for a 12-over-par 228.
Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club players Isabella Ferguson and Antonia Ho tied for fourth at 16-over 232. Ferguson scored 78-78-76, while Ho carded 78-76-78. Lauren Gervais of the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club tied for seventh at 77-76-82-235.
Bourgault also topped the juvenile standings with Tavares in second place.
Elizabeth Labbe of Levis trailed Bourgault by only five shots after 36 holes in the women’s championship. But they went in opposite directions for the final 18 holes as Bourgault went five-under 67 and Labbe was three-over 75.
Labbe recorded a seven-over-par 223 from rounds of 76-72-75. Tavares was third at 228.
Royal Ottawa’s Ashley Lafontaine placed fifth at 77-76-78 for a 15-over 231, while Ferguson and Ho deadlocked in sixth at 232 and Gervais was ninth at 235.
Hylands Golf Club’s Diane Dolan was the only Ottawa Valley Golf Association player in the women’s senior field and placed eighth at 85-82-86 for a 37-over 253. Royal Montreal’s Suzanne Ricard was first at 70-71-76 for a one-over-par total of 217.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 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 High Achievers “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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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