Berget Adjusts Approach To Take Silver At College National Finals


SPRUCE GROVE, Alberta — Golfers that win are golfers that adjust to change. And by changing his approach to how he played, for three rounds at least, Spruce Grove’s (AB) Justin Berget became a silver medallist in the county’s college championship.

Playing in Sainte-Victoire-de-Sorel, Que., Berget, a Commerce student at MacEwan University in Edmonton, worked his way up the leaderboard to place second, by one shot, in the Canadian College Athletic Association tournament. And he did so by switching his game plan off the tee to handle what lay in front of him each day at the host venue, the Continental Golf Club-St. Laurent.

The smooth-swinging right-hander, who won the Alberta college championship a few weeks earlier, said he didn’t go into this latest event over-confident because of that, but he was certain of his abilities.

“I don’t get too nervous going to golf tournaments. It’s just a game no matter how important the tournament is. I was confident with how my game was but at the same time I knew these guys were at a higher level than I’m used to, so I didn’t have too many expectations to be honest.”

What Berget found had to change in his game down for the national final, as opposed to his home province’s provincial final, was that opening volley on each of the par-4 and par-5 holes.

“It was kind of interesting because the previous tournament at Coal Creek, it was wide open so I could hit driver everywhere and that was the game plan. Then we get to Quebec, and this golf course is really narrow, there’s leaves all along the tree line so you could lose your ball there even though it was playable. So, it’s such a tight golf course I had to completely change my strategy from bombing driver everywhere to hitting 4-iron off the tee. A lot of target golf.”

Justin Berget (Centre) With His Silver Medal, And Head Coach Jodi Campbell (Left) and Assistant Coach Alan Riley (Right) After The Conclusion Of The 2019 Canadian College Athletic Association Golf Championship.

Needless to say, that didn’t hurt the Alberta champ even though he noted he is much more comfortable hitting the big stick off the tee box. But he adjusted by “Kind of playing small-ball, and if you look at my scorecard for three days, I didn’t make a single double (bogey). I played much more conservatively off the tee. I didn’t make as many birdies as usual, yes, but I didn’t make any doubles either so I think I kind of came out on top.”

That approach kept him in the hunt for the national title each and every day of the 54-hole event (one day was lost to rain and high winds) where he was T-4 (73), then T-5 (74), wrapping up with a 2-under 70 to finish second by two shots and one stroke back of the winner.

He did have a chance to force a playoff when he came up about five yards short of hitting the final par-5 hole of the tournament in two, but his chip shot came up just short.

About maybe liking to have a mulligan there, Berget said, “Yeah, it wasn’t a high percentage shot,” but it wasn’t necessarily that shot that cost him the shot at the title. “I was more unhappy that I hit a really good hybrid from 235 (yards) and it came up just short of the false front. It was a front pin and a couple of more yards and I would have had a shot at eagle.”

As it was that didn’t happen, but Berget made the most of having to change his game plan to walk away with the silver medal, the first time a MacEwan U golfer has ever had a podium finish at the national finals.

As for his plans now, the Spruce Grove resident said he’’ll finish his schooling, he has two more years of eligibility, and then figure out what he wants to do from there. For now though, he’s going to sit back, relax in the off-season, and relish in his accomplishments during the 2019 golf season.

Berget, and Michael Harrison, who finished T-9, from Augustana U, were the only Western Canadians in the top-10 at the event that saw 59 players take part.