With well-known pro golfers like Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth each taking home multiple USGA Junior Amateur Championships in their youth, it’s no wonder the tournament is such a big deal for young players.
For Luca Cimoroni, a Grade 10 student at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS), it’s an enormous achievement.
Luca, who’s only 14 years old, not only qualified for the tournament, open to players under the age of 19, he won the Sectional Qualifier that recently took place in New Hartford, NY.
“He’s going to be on every NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) college radar, especially as a 14-year-old because of how well he’s doing at these competitions,” says his SMCS teacher and golf coach, Paul Ruta.
“He excelled on the golf team in Grade 9 competing against Grade 12s at CISAA (Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association) and he did not look out of place.”
The 72nd USGA Junior Amateur Championship takes place July 15-20 at the Inverness Club in Toledo, OH. The winner will receive an exemption into next year’s U.S. Open.
“I’m very excited for it,” says Luca. “I really want to perform to my full ability and make match play.” The top 64 after two rounds advance to match play, which is a method of scoring where the golfer earns one point for each hole played where they beat their opponents.
Luca’s whole family including his dad, Dan Cimoroni, are all very supportive and involved. “It’s overwhelming the amount of support we’ve received from family, friends, and club members over the last few weeks,” he says. “It’s truly living up to the statement that ‘it takes a village’.”
“On the day after the Ontario qualifier, he had played poorly and he was genuinely nervous [for the Sectional Qualifier] because of that,” his dad says. “But he went out there on that Friday, looked out at the golf course and said, ‘I’m going to have a good day today.’ Then he went on to win the tournament.”
Coach Ruta says, “He has that little bit of edge needed and the mental toughness that the sport demands. It’s a ‘you versus everybody’ sport, not a team game.”
FOR THE LOVE OF GOLF
The love of the game is deeply rooted in Luca’s family. His dad not only plays golf and competes in the sport, he’s also the professional agent for Mike Weir.
“He has an insatiable desire to learn more about the sport, and he does that through watching other players,” Dan says. “He’s very self-motivated on the research front, in terms of practice and preparation.”
To those close to Luca, like his teacher and coach, some key things stand out about his approach to golf. “He’s really passionate and serious about the sport,” Ruta says. “He’s not just going out there to play golf for the sake of it. He wants to learn and get better.”
Luca recently returned from an eight-day golf trip to Scotland with the SMCS Golf Team where he was able to tour and play at seven different courses at St. Andrews, including the Old Course and Kingsbarns, which was his favourite.
In addition to the USGA Junior Amateur Championship, Luca has a full schedule of golf tournaments that he’s playing in this summer. Some notable ones include: the Canadian Junior Boys Championship, the Ontario Juvenile (U17) Boys Championship, and the CJGA Mizuno National Junior Golf Championship.
He just completed the IMG Junior World Championships at La Costa Resort in California. He tied for 26th and was the lowest scoring Canadian player, gaining valuable experience.
To prepare, Luca says he typically spends 5-10 hours a day on the course practicing and playing.
“He’s been working a lot with the team of coaches that support him, working on his swing, strength and conditioning to prepare his body for all of the tournaments,” says Ruta.
Luca’s goals are to make match play at the USGA Junior Amateur Championship, have a good showing at the Canadian Junior, and improve all aspects of his game.
“I’m going to play every chance I get. And other than travel days, no breaks.”