By Ken MacLeod
As instructor to many of the state’s top college and professional golfers, including Austin Eckroat, Quade Cummins, Jaxon Dowell, Brock Polhill and dozens of others, Ryan Rody is not easily impressed with a stretch of good golf.
Even Rody, the director of instruction at Southern Hills Country Club, has been amazed recently with the exploits of one of his young protégés.
Evyn Cannon, a precocious 11-year-old from Edmond, has been routinely beating highly-recruited college-bound talents as old as 18 on the All-American Tour, the highest of three levels of junior golf tours offered by the North Texas PGA.
Unable to play on the Oklahoma Junior Golf Tour due to its minimum age requirement of 12, Cannon’s family has elected the past four years to drive her to select events in Texas for the two-day, 36-hole competitions. She won the Denton Classic in late August, shooting consecutive rounds of 73-73 to finish at 2-over. She then won the Watters Creek Classic in early November, bouncing back from an opening 77 with a second-round of 3-under 69, by three shots the best round shot by any competitor in the field on either day.
She also played in three events in the spring, finishing tied for third in the first and tied for second in the next two.
“These events are against top level juniors some of whom have signed or are being recruited by college teams,” said Alexa Boutwell, Coordinator of Junior Tour Operations for the Northern Texas PGA.
“What’s she’s doing is incredible, amazing,” Rody said. “A lot of it is she has great focus and self motivation. She’s 11 and already hitting it 220 off the tee. She wants to be like Nelly Korda and turn pro before college.”
Perhaps she’ll change her mind about that later, but Cannon is certainly on a fast track. She qualified for the National Drive, Chip and Putt finals at Augusta National at age 7. This year she finished second in her age group at the U.S. Kids World Championship at Pinehurst, then was a mainstay on the Oklahoma team that finished third in the PGA Jr. League National Championship in Scottsdale.
Along with Chase Hughes, Emerson Majma and others, Cannon is leading a wave of 12-and-under Oklahoma golfers who have made big impacts on the national junior circuits and it will be fascinating to watch how they progress from here.
“Evyn drives it well and her iron play is really good,” Rody said. “She makes golf easy on herself.”
And hard on her competitors.