Trevor Ranton woke up to a pleasant surprise Friday.
His father, Doug, and older brother, Jacob, had come into town from the family home in Waterloo, Ont., to watch Ranton on the final day of the International Junior Masters at East Aurora Country Club.
What a day it turned out to be.
Ranton steamrolled his way to a 7-and-6 victory over Brendan Hunter in a morning semifinal, then waited out a lengthy rain delay before earning the championship in the afternoon with a 4-and-3 win over Mexico’s Raul Pereda.
“I had no idea they were coming. It was great to see them here,” said the 16-year-old Ranton, who becomes the second straight Canadian to win the prestigious junior title, following Joey Savoie of Quebec in 2012.
The son of teachers, it was unusual for Ranton not to see Doug and his mother, Sandra, out walking the course at the start of the week. While Sandra was unable to make it because it was the final day of the school year, Doug found a way to sneak away.
“He doesn’t miss a tournament. Like, he comes to everything,” Ranton said. “It killed him not to be able to get to this one. He’s a high school teacher, and he had to be in for the week, but I guess he got off today and came down.”
It was fitting for Doug to be there, considering he and Sandra gave their son his start in the game. That came more than a decade ago, but it wasn’t until four years ago when Ranton joined the Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, Ont., that he began playing competitively.
Ranton is a member of the Whistle Bear Junior Performance team, which he credits for the rapid ascension of his game.
“It’s a great club. The junior program is, in my opinion, the best in Ontario, maybe tops in Canada,” he said. “My coaches, Dave Smallwood and Mike Skimson, are just unreal. We have a junior performance team that’s just so good, and there’s so many juniors to play with.”
With his win Friday, which came in one of the strongest Junior Masters fields in recent memory, Ranton immediately put himself on the junior golf map.
“It means a lot, because I know people are going to see this,” he said. “People are going to know, so it gets my name out there a little more. I haven’t had a big win yet in my career. This is by far the biggest.”
It’s a win that took even him by surprise.
“I obviously was hoping for it, but it’s not what I was expecting,” he said. “I was just hoping to shoot two good rounds in the medal play and get myself into the championship flight.”
He managed to do that – barely – by being the 32nd and final player to qualify for match play. From there, he played 77 holes to win, for a total of 115 holes over four days.
Ranton went 1 up at the turn in the championship match, then watched as Pereda squared the match with a birdie. Undeterred, the Canadian ripped off three straight birdies from holes 11 to 13 to seize control.
“He deserves to win,” Hunter said. “Everyone here has beautiful swings, knows how to play the game. That’s how good of a field it is. The one that makes it to the end is the one who’s the most mentally conditioned and physically conditioned and can sustain that many rounds in that much time.”
Ranton, though, didn’t know if he had it in him.
“Every hill I walked up, I was huffing and puffing,” he said. “It’s just a lot. I’m dead tired. I went to sleep before 10 every night.”
In the end, the exhaustion was well worth it.