athletes thrive on getting their sport up to scratch, but in the
case of Jake "0.J." Hemlock, it's quite the opposite.
The local 17-year-old PGA pro-prospect would much prefer to get
his golf game down to scratch.
year, I was a three handicap," said Hemlock, a member of the
Caughnawaga Golf Club since he was nine. He spent this winter honing
his skills at his father Angus' Kahnawake Golf Training Facility
in preparation for the upcoming season. "I'm looking forward
to becoming a scratch golfer and having a much better year than
last." Ouch! Most of us duffers could only dream of having
a summer season such as the one Hemlock experienced in 2003.
starters, he kicked off his competitive golf year by winning Canadian
Junior Golf Association's inaugural event, the Greater Ottawa Junior
Open held in May at Club de Golf Hautes Plaines in Gatineau. He
shot two sizzling rounds of 74-76 in cold, rainy and extremely windy
conditions. Later in the same month, Hemlock followed that victory
with a second-place finish at the Junior Worlds qualifier at Metropolitan
Golf Club in Anjou. Shooting an uncharacteristic 80 on the first
day, his back was against the proverbial wall, needing to shoot
even par or better on the second day in order to qualify for the
unparalleled Junior World event that was slated for late July in
San Diego, California.
was a very proud day for me," said Hemlock, who has serious
aspirations of following in the footsteps of Native North America
PGA star, Notah Begay III, and playing on the Pro Tour some day
in the not-too-distant future. "I put it all together and shot
a 72 which included a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole."
for Kahnawake's latest up-and-coming star, a trip to "Sunny
Cal" to play against the best junior golfers the planet has
to offer, didn't materialize. CJGA executives, who choose the Canadian
contingent from all of Canada's junior golfers who qualify, left
Hemlock off the team.
was really disappointing," Hemlock lamented. "Especially
after playing so well (at Metropolitan) on the second day and rallying
to qualify the way I did. I would have loved to have gone to California
and play with all the best juniors in the world."
was justifiaby daunted, but as is the case with most successful
golfers, Hemlock put that setback behind him and focused on his
next competitive junior outing at Quebec's Mirabel Golf Club. That
event held in late June, would earn him a spot on Team Canada East
and an opportunity to play at the renowned Angus Glen Golf Club
in Markham, Ontario. Hemlock made the TCE squad by shooting rounds
was very happy to make the team and get a chance to play at the
Angus Glen course. That club hosted the 2002 (PGA) Canadian Open."
for the "Battle of Pride" in late August that pitted Canada's
best Eastern golfers against the cream of the Western Canadian crop,
Hemlock tuned up at Hudson's Falcon Golf Club in mid-July. Playing
in the Quebec Junior Masters event, he finished in a tie for second
his final and most prestigious event of the summer, the CJGA Lipton
Brisk Canada Cup, Kahnawake's rising star not only played one of
Canada's landmark courses, he took his game to a higher level and
figuratively speaking, tore up the course and his Team Canada West
a two-day, two-man, match-play format, the best of the east paired
up against the best of the west. On the third day of the event,
Canada's best junior golfers went at it playing individual, match-play
singles rounds. Hemlock was the only Team Canada East competitor
to win all his matches. He led his TCE contingent to a 12-4 victory
over Team West. In the two-day, two-man match-play event, he won
both rounds playing with teammate Wendall Touhey of Ottawa. On the
final day in the singles match-play event, Hemlock defeated Saskatchewan's
couldn't have been happier to finish the 2003 year on such a high
note," he said brimming with pride. "And being the only
Team Canada East player to win all his matches was a special thrill
for me. I can't wait for spring and to be playing again."
to start the 2004 golf season off with a bang, Hemlock is anxious
to defend his Greater Ottawa Open title on May 8-9 at Gatineau's
Club de Golf Hautes Plaines.
good things from Kahnawake's heralded PGA pro prospect.
Citing his dad as his best role model and teacher, he remembers
his father getting him started in the sport by giving him his first
golf club at the age of six. His very first round of golf, appropriately
with his dad, was at Mohawk Hills Golf Club. "My dad is very
encouraging and motivating," says Hemlock with conviction.
"Any decision I make toward the game of golf, he backs me up