They say victory is sweet, but it’s even more sweet when you do it in the pouring rain and in a come-from-behind fashion.
That was Jacob Armstrong’s day at the Manitoba Junior Men’s Championship at Elmhurst Golf & Country Club on Tuesday.
The 17-year-old was four strokes behind third-round leader Braxton Kuntz heading into Tuesday’s final round.
"I didn’t think I had a shot, I’ll be honest. I was just trying to get the 17/18 division win. Somehow, that just happened," said Armstrong, who closed with a 2-under 69 to capture the crown with a four-round total of 293, seven over par.
With a championship on the line, the St. Boniface Golf Club member was clutch on his back nine to put himself back in contention for top spot. After a string of birdies on holes 13 to 15, Armstrong tied it up on the 16th hole.
Armstrong took the lead with a long putt — at least a 14-footer — on the 17th green.
"As soon as it went in, wow. I just couldn’t believe I did that. I told my dad that’s probably up there with one of the best putts I ever hit. It felt good."
Armstrong claimed the juvenile age group provincial championship the past two years, but this was his first Manitoba junior title win.
Breezy Bend member Kuntz finished in second place, two strokes behind Armstrong after a final round of 75. Although Kuntz didn't come away with the win, he said he couldn't be happier for his competitor.
"I didn’t pull it off, I didn’t win. But to be honest, Jacob, my good friend, he played lights out. He finished off so well and I’m happy to see him win a provincial championship," said Kuntz.
Neel Soni, of St. Charles, took third spot with a four-day total of 303 after firing a final round of 75.
In the junior women's championship, 18-year-old Kate Gregoire fired a 7-over par round of 80 to take the title with a three-round total of 248. The Quarry Oaks member led the whole tournament and finished at +29, 13 strokes ahead of second-place finisher Mikyla Albert, who closed with an 84.
In contrast to the 50 golfers in the junior men’s tournament, only 12 competitors golfed in the junior women’s event. Gregoire says the amount of young golfers she's seen has been on the rise since she began playing eight years ago. She hopes it continues in an upward direction.
"There has been a lot more female golfers that have come up since I started golfing, so it’s good to see that there’s a lot more younger girls because it’s a great sport that’s friendly and welcoming for everyone," she said.
"There’s always someone there for you. If you have a bad hole they can cheer you up, it’s just fun."
This will be Gregoire’s third year representing Manitoba at the national championship. This year’s Canadian junior girls championship will be played at the Lethbridge Country Club in Lethbridge, Alta., from July 30 to Aug. 2.
While Gregoire started off golfing with her dad and still loves doing it to this day, the teen says her favourite thing about the sport is all the friends she's made along the way.
"I just love the sport, you get to meet great people every year and new people and just make friendships, it’s a sport I love. You meet a lot of new people when you go away," said Gregoire.
While Gregoire will soon be headed to Alberta, Armstrong and his dad will head to Hartland, N.B., for the junior nationals at Covered Bridge.
Armstrong was emotional after Tuesday's win, saying he had his dad to thank for everything he'd done to get him to this point.
"I just bugged him today. I didn’t want him to watch but I’m more than happy that he did," Armstrong said with watery eyes.
"To know that this game I get to play is all because of him, it means the world. I get to go to (New Brunswick) because of this great game and that’s because he got me into it. He’s so amazing."
Armstrong says he couldn't be happier to follow in his dad's footsteps. His dad, Neil, played in the same tournament decades ago.
"I know my dad, about 30 years ago, maybe a little more, he finished second and won the juvenile division, so he has his name on a plaque over there. To have my name with those kind of guys, it’s mind boggling almost. It’s nice to see hard work pay off in four days like that."
Other age-group winners in the boys division were Kuntz (ages 15 to 16), Jack Taylor of Elmhurst (13 to 14), and Shilo's Spence Mott (12 and under).
Updated on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 11:19 PM CDT: Adds photos