Canada’s Ellie Szeryk had the golden touch over the weekend, winning four different ways at the Jim West Challenge. Szeryk won her first individual NCAA title on Monday, which in turn helped Southern Methodist University win its first team championship of the fall, just days after the Mustangs also won the tournament’s pro-am.
Things were going so well for Szeryk and her teammates that they even won the tournament’s karaoke contest.
“It was pretty special. I honestly wasn’t really expecting it this week, so it was a nice surprise,” said Szeryk of her victories on the course. “It was really special that I got to win with my team as well. On our drive back to campus we were all super excited. “It was just really amazing.”
Szeryk, from London, Ont., won by a stroke, finishing at 16-under overall. She played bogey free in her final round including an eagle on No. 5 to finish the day at 9 under. That tied her for the second lowest round in Mustangs history and gave her eight top-10 finishes since she started at SMU in the fall of 2022.
“I think the biggest thing is my putting,” said Szeryk on how she finally came out on top. “This past year I did really well and I had been close a lot of times, but my putting just didn’t really come through.”
“It wasn’t really connecting at the right times or I would have it for the first couple rounds and then that final round, when I really needed it, I was just missing some crucial putts”
The Mustangs went into Monday’s final round tied for first with Houston and Texas State at 15 under. SMU quickly opened up a 10-stroke lead on the day, and eventually finished at 23-under par. The 18-hole score shattered the previous SMU record of -14 set back at The American Championship in April.
Szeryk and her SMU teammates started the Friday-through-Monday event on a winning note when their Shrek-themed routine set to Smash Mouth’s “All-Star,” complete with costumes, won the tournament’s karaoke challenge.
“You have to create this like dance routine, everything and so our team did Shrek and our team ended up winning,” said Szeryk, who dressed as the Gingerbread Man, laughing about the performance. “They have judges and the teams that win get more money toward their programs so we went all out for that.”
Szeryk gained professional experience competing as an amateur at the CPKC Women’s Open at Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in August. She was paired with her older sister Maddie Szeryk, an LPGA Tour regular, at the event.
The younger Szeryk, who also played in the 2018 Canadian Open in Regina, said the exposure to the LPGA Tour helped set up the victory at the Jim West Challenge.
“I took a lot from the Canadian Open and what I’ve learned golf-wise was putting was the biggest thing that hurt me on that golf course,” said Szeryk, who is a political science major. “So just a lot of managing my time and a lot of time sacrifices.
“Rather than going out with my friends, or staying up late, it’s a lot of like, ‘hey, I need to work on my putting, so I’m going to stay and practice a bit longer.”
LPGA TOUR — Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., is the lone Canadian in the field at the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur. She’s 14th on the Race to CME Globe standings heading into the event at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
PRESIDENTS CUP — Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., the captain for the International Team at the 2024 Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal Golf Club, has elected to have six captain’s picks as opposed to the traditional four. The 12-on-12 event sees the best male golfers from the United States take on the top players from around the world, minus Europe. Six captain’s selections may mean that Weir loads up on Canadian talent. Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., and Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., were on last year’s International team, the most Canadians to ever play in a Presidents Cup.