Norris Wins Les Thomas Tourney, Friyia Easily Wins Girls Title

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioGolf.com

The Junior Tyson Tour championship invitational doesn’t arrive until August 24 at Sunningdale Golf and Country Club. But the annual Les Thomas Memorial Tournament provides the youngsters with their only two-day event – not to mention an opportunity to see their name on the same trophy as Mike Weir.

And when overall champion Calvin Norris of Highland Country Club gets to see his name etched on the hardware, he’ll grin even more than he did today after winning in a playoff at Fanshawe Golf Club.

Calvin Norris. Photo: Jeffrey Reed/LondonOntarioGolf.com.

Norris, 15, a Grade 11 student and golfer at Oakridge Secondary School, beat Craig Vanderheyden in a sudden-death playoff after both golfers finished with a two-day score of 150 (+10). Norris, who competes in the Juvenile division, shot an even-par 72 yesterday at Thames Valley Golf Club, while Junior competitor Vanderheyden posted a 77 (+7).

Today at Fanshawe with intermittent showers adding a degree of difficulty, Vanderheyden rebounded with a 73 (+3), while Norris shot 78 (+8). Their playoff was the first in recent memory on the Tyson Tour, celebrating its 50th Anniversary season.

At the 328-yard par-4 No. 10 – a dogleg left – both golfers made birdies. At the second playoff hole – the 156-yard par-3 18th hole – Norris drained a 40-foot putt for birdie and the win.

“It was pretty tough out there today, with lots of rain for five holes,” said Norris, whose father, Jake, is former head golf professional at Komoka’s FireRock Golf Club. Calvin’s older brother, Taylor, is a former winner on the Tyson Tour.

“I started golfing when I was really young, when my dad was the pro at FireRock. He still beats me,” Calvin said. “We play with my brother, and my grandpa (Tom Norris) who plays at Widder Station (Golf and Country Club in Thedford).”

An hour after his round, Norris was still grinning ear to ear when thinking about how his name will forever be linked to Weir’s. The 2003 Masters Tournament champion won the Les Thomas event in 1986 and ’87.

This was the 38th year for the Les Thomas event (est. 1981). The two-day tourney carries the name of the former Golf Ontario director and commissioner of London’s Public Utilities Commission in the 1970s who was a big backer of junior golf.

“It feels pretty good to win this trophy,” said Norris, a fourth-year Tyson Tour competitor who captured the Tyson Tour Bantam division in 2016. “I’ve watched Mike Weir a lot on TV. It’s crazy to think that my name is now going to be on the same trophy – really crazy.”

Other boys’ division winners today included Juvenile winner Ben Landers, and Bantam winners Chase MacQueen-Spence and Henry Owen (tied).

Jillian Friyia. Photo: Jeffrey Reed/LondonOntarioGolf.com.

No surprise, Highland CC junior and defending women’s champion Jillian Friyia demolished the other three competitors in the Girls division, shooting 73 at Thames Valley GC and today 79 at Fanshawe GC – 43 strokes better than second-place finisher Jade Tep-Chhun. Read my recent story on the struggle to grow junior girls golf here.

That said, with a half-century of golf offered to local juniors, the Tyson Tour is alive and well, according to convenor Steve Bennett, director of golf with the City of London. Weir’s former junior pro at Huron Oaks Golf Club in Bright’s Grove said while growing the game is always a challenge, thanks mostly to time restraints, lack of money and already busy schedules, the Tyson Tour is still the gold standard of local tournament golf for juniors.

“We’ve been around now for more than 50 years, and have had a lot of great golfers put their names on our trophies. We’re growing the game, which is obviously absolutely necessary,” Bennett said.

“The template is in place for growth, and we’re very encouraged by the Juvenile and Bantam divisions, but you can always improve,” Bennett added. “We’re not alone in trying to get more kids involved. That said, we’re always looking to try new things.”

Next stop for the Tyson Tour is the Sawmill Creek Junior Open on Thursday in Camlachie. There are four regular stops remaining on the nine-event Tour before the Sunningdale-hosted championship.

For the complete Les Thomas and year to-date leaderboard, visit JuniorTysonTour.com.

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About jeffreyreed

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