Olkowski preps for prestigious event
ONE OF THE BEST
Trevor Olkowski has been busy this summer.
In a couple of weeks, the 15-year-old will join the Grand Junction High School golf team for his sophomore season.
The Tigers have high hopes for a great season.
Olkowski will be as ready as any high school golfer in the state thanks to his busy summer.
He’s roamed fairways and greens around Colorado, Las Vegas and San Diego, and the result has been a much-improved game.
This week he will be in Canada to play in the Junior America’s Cup.
It was his impressive summer of work that landed him on the team made up of only four players from Colorado.
“It was pretty exciting,” Olkowski said about hearing that he made the team.
The three-day tournament, which begins Tuesday in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a showcase of some of the best Junior golfers throughout the western region. A field of 17 four-player teams from 12 western states, two Canadian provinces and Mexico will compete.
Just like the entire summer, Olkowski said there’s just one goal.
“Hopefully it will make me a better all-around player,” he said.
Tom LeFebre, Olkowski’s coach at Grand Junction, said improvement only comes with playing a lot of golf.
“Every spring and summer, the most important thing you can do is to play and get experience,” he said. “You have to play against good competition.”
That’s what Olkowski has done this summer.
Earlier this month, he qualified and played in the prestigious Callaway Junior World Golf Championships with some of the top junior golfers from all over the world. The winner was from Australia and the runner-up from Taiwan.
“It helps so much because you not only get tournament experience but you’re playing against such a high level of competition,” LeFebre said.
The tournament was at Torrey Pines in San Diego, the longest course Olkowski has ever played.
“It was really long,” he said. “I’m not quite there yet (with long drives).”
He said his short game is really strong right now, adding “my chipping has been on fire.”
Torrey Pines is a hilly, seaside course that hosted the 2008 U.S. Open won by Tiger Woods.
The Junior America’s Cup players are selected by a committee that evaluates how players have performed over the summer.
Olkowski has had a great summer, which included winning the Colorado Junior Golf Association tournament in the 15-18 age division in June.
Just how big a deal is making the Junior America’s Cup?
A quick look at some of the former participants tells the story. The list includes a number of players who have gone on to play on the PGA Tour, including a guy named Tiger, Phil Mickelson, Corey Pavin and Fred Couples.
“It’s really cool,” Olkowski said about playing in the same tournament as some of those legends. “It’s almost a privilege to play in the tournament.”
He said the summer has elevated his game, which has him excited about the high school season that begins Aug. 4.
After finishing 28th at the Class 5A state tournament last fall, Olkowski is looking to place much higher.
“This is really the best I’ve played,” he said about his summer. “I’m pushing to try and win state.”
With all four players returning from last season’s state qualifying team, Olkowski said they also have a great chance at a high team finish this season.
LeFebre said only two Grand Junction golfers have ever won state, Paul Nolan and Monte Montgomery, who also won the Rocky Mountain Open three times.
Olkowski will be the sixth Grand Junction High School player to play in the Junior America’s Cup, LeFebre said.
Brad Broughton played on the team in 1985, Nolan in 1978, Montgomery in 1987, Marc Hocking in 1995 and Eric Winder in 2003.
Olkowski, who has two hole-in-ones to his credit already in his career, said he’s not nervous about the tournament because he’s played in so many big tournaments against such good competition throughout the summer.
“I’m just looking forward to playing against good competition,” he said.