Les Thomas Winner Thankful For Tournament Golf












by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioGolf.com

Just moments before junior golfer Kevin Frehner was recognized as the Les Thomas Memorial tournament winner at Fanshawe Golf Club this afternoon, he discovered that there was a trophy to be awarded to the winner of the 39th annual event.

Frehner, 18, of London said he “assumed Mike Weir had won this event.” Indeed, the 2003 Masters Tournament champ, playing out of Huron Oaks Golf Club in Brights Grove, did hoist the trophy in 1986 and ’87.

But Frehner, who plays out of Thames Valley Golf Club and is a member of the Highland Country Club junior academy, was caught by surprise when presented with the hardware which now displays his name alongside Weir’s.

First staged in 1981, the two-round Les Thomas tourney is named in honour of the former Golf Ontario director and commissioner of London’s Public Utilities Commission in the 1970s. Thomas was a big backer of junior golf in London and area.

Les Thomas Memorial Tournament winner Kevin Frehner. Photo: Jeffrey Reed/LondonOntarioGolf.com.

On Monday, Frehner shot an opening-round 3-under 70 at his 5,838-yard home course, then today posted an even-par 70 at the 5,747-yard Fanshawe Golf Club. It was good for a two-day score of 137, eight strokes better than runner-up Ben Landers who, under the tour format, was crowned the Junior Boys champ.

Brent Schidowka won the Juvenile Boys title, Logan Battersby the Bantam Boys division and Jade Tep-Chhun the girls division.

Golfing since age 6, Frehner said he became serious about the game at age 10 when, during his first junior tournament, he shot 112 at Sunningdale Golf Club. Despite his score, Frehner fell in love with the sport which his father, Paul, introduced to him after he had read a book on how to break 100 on the golf course.

“Dad transferred his wisdom to me,” said Frehner, a member of the powerhouse Oakridge Oaks golf squad, coached by Mike Granger and including standouts Isabella Portokalis, Jillian Friyia and Calvin Norris, who captured the Les Thomas tourney in 2018.

After high school, Frehner hopes to play golf with either the Fanshawe Falcons or the Western Mustangs.

Highland Country Club has ties to the last four Les Thomas champions. Jillian’s brother, Cole, captured the two-day event in 2016. He now golfs at Highland, but was a Greenhills Golf Club member when he hoisted the hardware. Colin Warren, a Highland junior, won in 2017. Both Cole Friyia and Warren are former Oakridge Oaks golfers.

Frehner said he “did a good job at staying away from the big numbers this week. I didn’t make too many birdies – just lots of pars. Consistent golf. I made 33 putts today, but I did hit a lot of greens.

“I’m not huge off the tee – about 275 yards. But I have been working a lot on my wedge game, 40-80 yard range, scoring clubs. I’m still not the putter I want to be, but one day I hope to be,” he said.

(L-R) Junior champ Ben Landers, Girls winner Jade Tep-Chhun, Overall winner Kevin Frehner, Bantam champ Logan Battersby, Juvenile champ Brent Schidowka. Photo: Jeffrey Reed/LondonOntarioGolf.com.

This year, the Les Thomas tournament attracted 60 juniors – a solid number, said Tyson Tour convenor Steve Bennett, who oversees London’s municipal golf system.

“It can be a struggle to get junior golfers out, and an even bigger struggle to get them to play tournament golf,” Bennett explained. “There are so many different things for them to do today, and mom and dad are busy working. But the Tyson Tour has been going strong for 52 years. We’re still attracting some great junior golfers, and we’re still able to help them learn life’s lessons through the game.”

“There’s a little more pressure when you play tournament golf,” said Frehner. “It’s really good for keeping kids true to themselves. I find when I play casual rounds of golf, kids will shave strokes off their actual score. So tournament golf is good at teaching you how to be honest, and how you can push yourself to improve.”

Hoisting the hardware, Frehner beamed from ear to ear as he realized his name would now be etched alongside Weir’s.

“It’s really neat, because he’s a golf legend and huge to the game in Canada. So I’m very grateful for this.”

There are three regular-season events remaining on the Tyson Tour schedule, including the St. Thomas Junior Open on August 8, Greenhills Junior Open on August 12 and River Road Junior Open on August 15.

The 2019 tour championship invitational goes August 28 at Sunningdale.

For overall points leaders, visit JuniorTysonTour.com.


Award-winning golf writer Jeffrey Reed has been covering the Canadian golf scene since 1980. His third book, The Canadian Seniors’ Golf Association, Celebrating 100 Years of Seniors Golf 1918-2018, was published in 2018. He’s currently writing a biography of Sandy Somerville. Reach him at jeff@londonontariogolf.com.

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A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989.