Kim, Anderson win at Morningstar

Future Links amateur championship sees 99 junior golfers take on a hard course

Victoria’s Naomi Ko blasts out of a bunker during Sunday’s final round.

Victoria’s Naomi Ko blasts out of a bunker during Sunday’s final round.

Golf Canada’s season-opening amateur championship —  the 2012 CN Future Links Pacific Championship —  is officially in the can, and people are still talking about the play of Canadian National team member Anna Kim of Toronto.

Kim fired a six under par on Sunday’s final round to win the junior girls division of the big annual showcase.

Nanaimo’s Zach Anderson won the junior boys division.

Played out Friday through Sunday at Morningstar Golf Club, the 54-hole competition for the top under 18 players in Western Canada, including national team members, brought out the best in many of the 99 golfers (72 males, 27 females) here.

According to event chair Mike Loftus, Kim’s six under par “is a new course record for ladies here at Morningstar,” explaining the old record was 68 but has an asterisk beside it as it was played out from slightly longer tees.

“But yesterday was just an incredible round of golf — she did everything,” Loftus said of Kim, adding, “she’s just a phenomenal player. It was a pleasure to watch and see someone of that calibre playing here, and that is an LPGA score, that’s not a CN Future Links Junior score.”

Also playing in the lead group on Sunday and showing she has ice in her veins was 14-year-old Naomi Ko from Victoria who pushed her older counterpart on every hole.

“I was amazed at her — she held her own,” said Loftus, Morningstar’s vice-president of sales and marketing, adding, “she’s not on the Canadian National team yet, but the national team coach spent more of the day watching her than probably the girl who shot the 66. Here’s this girl that’s 14 years of age with a phenomenal temperament and is so cool on the golf course.”

No where did was that ice water more evident, he said, then on hole 15. Kim had a two-shot lead at the time, “and she chipped in off the green, and I was amazed to see Ko stand up there and knock in a 20 footer for birdie to stay within two, and then on 17 to knock in a 25-footer to put more pressure on Kim. (Ko’s) an amazing young player — she plays the course much older, and I think you’ll hear big things about her in the future.”

“There’s been some excellent golf — the calibre of play seems to be getting better every year,” Morningstar’s Grant Skellern echoed from behind the wheel of a golf cart during Sunday’s final round. “There’s some great coaching, even here on the Island, and that’s certainly helping their play. Their etiquette and their mannerism on the course is excellent. All week long we haven’t had any problems whatsoever. It’s been a real treat this year for sure.

“And of course the condition the golf course was in last week (very wet) compared to what it is now is because of the grounds crew here. You can’t say it’s a miracle, but boy if somebody had seen it last week they’d have never thought they’d have this event,” he said.

Skellern, who works in the pro shop and has been a sales rep in the golf biz almost 40 years, has volunteered for too many junior tournaments to count, and makes the point “you try and give back as much as you can.”

The girls, he said, stand a much better chance of landing a university golf scholarship, but that said, he continued, most of the golfers whocompeted on the weekend, males and females, will go on to compete at college.

Enjoying Mother’s Day on Sunday was Adriana Ko, who was walking the course with her husband and young son in support of her daughter Naomi.

“Very much,” she said when asked if she’s enjoying the event.

Asked what she thinks of the course — Naomi had never golfed Morningstar before — Adriana said “it’s hard I think.”

It took some 40 volunteers to keep the tourney running smoothly, and organizers began preparing for it over two months ago. Tigh-Na-Mara was the host hotel.

Fifteen-year-old Santiago Bouyra from Mexico, currently in his second year at the Brent Morrison Golf Academy out of Pheasant Glen Golf Resort while attending Kwalikum Secondary School, finished 31st iamong junior boys with a 236 total. Only 16 players in the field of 99 were from Vancouver Island.

Nanaimo player Zach Anderson “he was definitely the best left-hander in the tournament, and he won it all,” said Loftus, adding, “he showed incredible patience out there, he played within himself very well, and he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on the 18th hole.”

According to Loftus, Gared Du-Toit from Kimberly was leading by one shot going into the last hole but triple-bogied the tough 18. Anderson was able to make bogey to win by one shot.

Also impressing was Emmett Oh from Calgary who shot a two-under Sunday to finish seven over and tied for second.

“Working with Golf Canada, we always consider it a privilege,” said Loftus. “They bring us some great players, they run great championships, and our members and the local people have a chance to see some of the stars of the future here. In general the golf was exceptionally good this year, and I think it helped market the Oceanside area by having this event here.”

This is the second time Morningstar has hosted the tournament, the first time in 2009.

“They’ve asked us to be more permanent in it,” said Loftus, adding, “they like the venue; the golf course is perfect for championship play, so they’d like us to hold more events — not only Future Link events, but more national championships.”


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