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Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017
Another local junior golfer draws attention
2017-08-11
by Randy Pascal

Sudbury junior golfing sensation Tristan Renaud has vaulted himself firmly on the radar of both Golf Ontario and Golf Canada with his play over the course of the past few months. Such has been the hype surrounding the 16 year student at Lockerby Composite that it’s easy to forget that he’s not alone in helping put Sudbury on the map in terms of teenage talent on the links.

In fact, it surprised few at the recent Idylwylde Invitational tournament that Renaud would go toe to toe with another Lockerby product, 19 year old Ward Kyle, in a championship bracket showdown that went right down to the wire.

Let’s not forget that Kyle was a semi-finalist one year ago at the same event, giving the likes of Kyle Rank a real run for his money come their Sunday morning match-up in 2016. And there is little doubt that his game is better, now that we have fast forwarded twelve months or so, thanks to him spending an eight month stretch that the world renown IMG (International Marketing Group) Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

Not only did the experience fine-tune his skill set on the links, it also allowed Kyle to accept an NCAA golf scholarship with the Bowling Green University Falcons, beginning his studies in Bowling Green, Ohio in September.

After finishing first at the FSGA Southwest Amateur Series at Eagle Lakes, and earning a fourth place deadlock at the AJGA Senior Showcase in Angel Park, Kyle was prepared to commit to a team that will feature on other Canadian, as well as players from Spain and France to complement their core of Ohio and Michigan born and bred talent.

Though golf was the primary focus as the local product worked diligently through the winter, it would be hard for Kyle not to be swept up in the sporting empire that is IMG, a facility which now trains countless of five star recruits in the athletic pursuit of their choice. “The cool thing about the school, I found, is the level of players from all of the other teams – football, basketball, baseball – most of these guys are going to be professional athletes,” he stated.

Throw in a golf group that is rapidly developing a reputation right across the United States. “It definitely shows you where you’re at,” acknowledged Kyle. “I felt I could really hold my ground with some of the really highly recruited players that were there. It’s good to work alongside those guys. It shows you what you need to work on.”

While IMG Academy does offer what amounts to a prep school program, combining senior high school studies with intensive sport-specific training, Kyle was among a group that would spend almost every waking hour on their passion.

“It’s definitely not for everyone, but I loved it,” he said. “It was good for me, I could play golf all day. Normally, we would go for an early morning workout, then a half hour mental session, and then spend three to four hours practicing.”

“In the afternoon, we would perhaps be playing 18 holes of golf, or more practicing. There was one coach for anywhere from one to six people – I was really lucky with that – and our group was a little more relaxed, just because we had eight hours a day to work on our game.”

In the end, it was mission accomplished for Kyle, on several levels. “Going into my year there, my driving was fairly inconsistent. Now, it’s easily one of the best parts of my game.” When it comes to crushing the ball off the tee, the two-time SDSSAA individual champion seems to mirror the abilities of so many of the top end teenagers in golf these days.

“At this point in my golfing career, I hit the ball plenty far enough to play any course,” he said. “It’s more important to be in the fairway, the widest part of the fairway, and give yourself a good angle at the pin.” And like most golfers of all ages, Kyle is keenly aware that his putting will eventually either separate him, or not, from the countless others who can “drive for show” with the best of them.

“I think putting is 90% confidence,” said Kyle. “If you’re not confident, you’re not going to put it on your line. If you’re not confident with your read, you’re not going to sink the putt. It’s definitely good to visualize it rolling into the hole, and it’s something I am working on. If I can improve my putting, I can play with anyone, I think.”

As for his collegiate debut, Kyle will target being selected as one of five tournament competitors, more often than not, from his team of nine athletes, once the Bowling Green fall season kicks off on September 8th to 10th at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate Tournament in Indiana.

“Compared to some other schools, I thought I would be able to play tournaments more easily there,” Kyle admitted, among the reasons for finalizing his commitment with the Falcons. “And it’s closer to home, that was a big factor. I’ll just keep practicing, keep playing, and see what I can do.”

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