A bold spirit and a trusty spoon helped Jon Silvester capture the International Junior Masters at East Aurora Country Club.
The 17-year-old from the Toronto suburb of Agincourt, Ont., rolled to victory in the match-play championship of the tournament Friday, defeating surprise finalist Keith Cutler of Haverhill, Mass.
Silvester closed out the match leading by five holes with four to play.
It was the first major victory for Silvester, one of the top 17-and-under players in Canada.
Silvester credited a less conservative approach with his march through five matches in the tournament.
"My idol is Nick Faldo, and a month ago I was trying to par every hole," said Silvester, referring to the British star known for his remarkable consistency.
"I realized that's not possible for a junior player to do. So I've gone back to trying to make birdies, and I've accepted the fact I'm going to make bogeys."
Silvester only recorded one birdie in the final and made three bogeys, but he gave himself frequent chances at birdie.
The 5-foot-9, 155-pounder hit nine of 14 greens in regulation in the final, a solid showing considering the conditions on a windy, rainy day.
He hit six of 10 fairways and was consistently straight with his drives throughout the tournament. He used his driver twice in the final, relying on a new spoon (3-wood) he purchased recently.
"The spoon seems to go down the middle," he said. "I was pretty consistent with it. When you keep getting a lot of pars, you put pressure on the other guy. I was able to get ahead, and it's easier to play with a lead."
Silvester had command of the final from the start, parring six of the first seven holes to take a five-hole lead over an erratic Cutler.
Cutler, who upset New York State high school champion Jonathan Doctor in the semifinals, was scrambling all day. He hit only one of the first seven greens in regulation and hit four of 14 overall.
Silvester held a three-hole lead after nine holes. Cutler made a 45-foot par putt to win the par-4 ninth, then took the par-4 10th with a 25-foot birdie putt.
But on the 383-yard 11th hole, the 17-year-old Cutler lost his drive into a water hazard. Silvester also hooked his drive and had to chip out of trees back into the fairway. From 135 yards, he put a 9-iron to 18 feet and made the putt for par and a three-hole lead.
On the 459-yard, par-5 12th, Silvester made a three-footer for birdie. He ended it on the par-4 14th with a par to Cutler's bogey.
Silvester's best showings last summer were a third-place finish at the Ontario Junior championship, a 12th-place finish at the Canadian Junior championship and a 32nd-place finish at the Ontario Men's Amateur. He has one year of high school remaining before what he hopes will be a Division I collegiate career in the United States.
The most dramatic match of the day was Cutler's stunning semifinal victory over Doctor, one of the pretournament favorites.
Doctor, of Skaneateles, held a two-hole lead after 15 holes.
On the par-5 16th, Doctor hit a 1-iron drive out of bounds. He teed it up again, and hit a drive a wind-aided 370 yards. It landed behind a tree, however, and he took triple-bogey 8. Cutler flubbed a chip shot and took double-bogey but won the hole.
On the 461-yard, par-4 17th, Doctor was over the green in two, sent his chip through the green to the front rough and took double-bogey. Cutler made bogey and was tied. On the 18th, Doctor three-putted from 30 feet for bogey, and Cutler made a tricky, six-footer for par and the win.
Silvester edged 16-year-old Jeff Parry of the Oshawa, Ont., area in the other semifinal, 4 and 3.
Silvester's triumph was the third by a foreigner in the event's 38-year history.