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Johnson looks strong in rookie season

Yorkton golfer collects three top-ten finishes in half his 2021 PGA Canada Mackenzie Tour competition across the country.
Kade Johnson by Clark Stork, Golf Saskatchewan 72
Kade Johnson turned pro in 2021.
YORKTON - It took Kade Johnson a dozen years to get there, but the Yorkton golfer has arrived with force.

The 23-year-old Sacred Heart High School graduate joined Professional Golf Association (PGA) Canada’s Mackenzie Tour in August. Johnson collected three top-10 finishes in his first six events as a professional, opening his career with a ninth-place seeding at the Prince Edward Island Open in Brudenell, P.E.I. He followed that with a 10th-place finish at the Brudenell River Classic and jumped to sixth at the Elk Ridge Open at Waskesiu, Sask.

These results placed him 28th in the Mackenzie Tour’s player rankings.

Johnson said his jump to the professional field required a greater adjustment to his off-course activities than to his golf game.

“I learned pretty quickly what the whole lifestyle is like on the pro circuit, so I was happy with how I did, for sure,” he said from Phoenix, Ariz. before Christmas when he was preparing for the 2022 season at a variety of golf facilities.

Although he needed to get used to his new, tight travel schedules and an ever-changing daily routine, Johnson was ready to jump into the professional field.

“I had some confidence going into the (P.E.I. Open) event. I was playing good golf,” he said. “I had good finishes in my last two amateur events, so I had some confidence going in, but I wouldn’t say my results were expected. After that first event, I got pumped and I was kind of thinking, ‘I could do this.’”

Johnson also attended Mackenzie Tour dates in Calgary, Alta. and Victoria, B.C. before the close of the 2021 season. He was well back of the leaders in those tournaments, but maintained solid scores regardless.

“I’ve been playing highly competitive golf for quite a while and the game doesn’t really change (at the professional level), except it’s a little bit better in every area,” he said.

“This year was a little bit different with COVID and the Mackenzie field wasn’t as deep as it normally is with a lot of Americans unable to come up due to the regulations at the border. But I feel my game is in a good spot compared to all the players out there with success on many tours for many years. I definitely think that I’m one step closer after getting this experience to be able to play on the PGA Tour.”

Heading into the holiday season, Johnson spent six weeks preparing for PGA qualifying school and the 2022 Mackenzie Tour schedule, which is expected to open sometime in March.

He believes his strength with the long ball will continue to bring him fruit in his sophomore season.

“I’ve always been a pretty good ball striker. I’ve always been pretty naturally gifted at that,” he said. “But I’ve worked a lot on my wedge game and my work around the greens is much tighter. I definitely see improvement on that.”

Before turning professional, Johnson proved himself in Saskatchewan’s elite amateur field. His wins include the 2016 Saskatchewan Junior Championship, the 2018 Saskatchewan Amateur Men’s Championship, the 2019 Woodlawn Frametech Classic in Estevan, the 2020 Weyburn Crocus Men’s Championship, and the 2021 Mark’s Blue Owl Men’s Open at Deer Park Golf Course in Yorkton.

In April, Johnson was named the Great American Conference’s men’s golfer of the week after finishing second at the 22nd Annual NSU Golf Classic in Muskogee, Okla. It was his third player-of-the-week honor as a member of the Southern Arkansas University Muleriders golf team.