Just two events in and things have heated up quickly in the Boys U19 division of the Northeastern Junior Golf Tour.
After seeing the opening stop feature a playoff hole between champion Vincent Palladino and runner-up Ethan Mulligan, the sequel at Timberwolf Golf Club was every bit as compelling.
This time around, Johnny Svalina and Palladino went toe to toe, with the former carding rounds of 77-79 (156), good for a one stroke victory over the latter at 78-79 (157). Mulligan slid into third place with an aggregate of 164 (83-81), with Joseph Colasimone another four shots back.
Truth be told, for much of these top-end local junior golfers, there is a great deal of familiarity built in.
"Ethan, Johnny and I have been playing together for maybe four years now," said Palladino. "We're all good competing against each other, knowing that anyone of us can win on any day."
"It's nothing we're not used to."
In an early summer that has featured more than its fair share of gorgeous days to golf, the NJGT members were forced to brave the elements a little more earlier this month in Sudbury.
"It was windy and rainy on day two, kind of raining sideways - but it wasn't just that way for me," noted Palladino. "We all went through it. You have to embrace the rain. This is an outdoor sport, so you're going to get it, once in a while."
With no lack of exposure to golf in his youth, Palladino believes that he is really just coming into his own. "I would consider myself more of a late bloomer," said the 17 year-old recent graduate of St Benedict Catholic Secondary School.
"My game is coming along well; I'm putting a lot of work in. Through the years, I've changed my outlook with golf. It's gone from something that I like to do, to something that I like to compete at, to something I want to dominate."
To that end, Palladino offers the following assessment of his game. "My ball striking is where I would like it to be," he said. "Off the tee, I can use some improvement, just working on my control some days."
"I would say that inside of a hundred is where I need the most work, which is kind of ironic because that's probably the best part of my father's game."
(Palladino would follow-up his win at Timberwolf by qualifying for the Golf Ontario Junior Spring Classic, carding an 81 at Tangle Creek Golf & Country Club.)
Competing in his first tour event of the summer, Connor DiSalle posted a six shot triumph over Adrian O'Dell, 167 (81-86) vs 173 (82-91), in the U17 Boys grouping.
Ryder Coe (U15 Boys - 82-76=158) and Carter Baron (U13 Boys - 88-87) also captured their respective divisions, while both Mackenzie Czapla (U19 Girls - 85-79=164) and Lea Lemieux (U15 Girls - 83-85=168) both golfed very well, despite finding themselves alone in their age brackets.
The next NJGT stop is set for July 12th/13th at the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club.