Beginning Friday at the Harbor Golf Club and Resort, Golf Saskatchewan will crown a champion in the 100th Women’s Amateur Championship but one golfer is hoping the winner is 12-years-old.
Grade 6 student Ella Kozak, the current U15 Junior Women’s Order of Merit (OOM) leader will play in the 54-hole competition. Kozak started the game young with her dad, not always wanting to go to the course, she was bribed with a bag of chips that “always worked.” Eventually her love for the sport evolved, Kozak said she likes meeting new people and playing in tournaments such as the Future Links and Maple Leaf Junior Tour (MJT). She’s had success at those events, however the humble Kozak feels older competition is the best for her development.
“I don’t know about being a gifted golfer, but I started to play against older players and was able to keep up and I played a couple tournaments in Alberta and Manitoba and was able to play well against tough competition,” she said.
She has a first and second place showing on the MJT tour and a pair of 18th place finishes on the Future Links tour this season. Most of her events she plays against girls up to 15-years-old, she said playing the Women’s Amateur doesn’t make her nervous.
“I am used to being the youngest, most of the time girls I play with can’t believe I am only in Grade 6 and I know some of the younger ladies in this tournament so that will help me be more relaxed. My dad is caddying for me and he gets really nervous, so I will have to keep him calm,” she laughed.
Kozak said her game is averaging in the 80’s this season and she hopes to continue that pace through the three-round event. With a bright future in the sport ahead of her she said playing golf in college is in her sights despite six more years of school in Yorkton.
“Right now, the goal is to play as many tournaments as I can to get experience and then hopefully I have the opportunity to play college golf and get an education somewhere hot,” she said.
Kozak credits the work of coaches Jason Schneider, Jeff Chambers, and Amanda Minchin as well as Deer Park professional Allan Sauser for her development.
“We are there a lot and Deer Park is a great course to play everyday.”