After powering to a 12-stroke lead in the opening round of the two-day B.C. Secondary School AA Golf Championships, the Kwalikum Kondors should have been a relaxed bunch as they prepared for the final round at Capilano Golf and Country Club in Vancouver last week.
They were anything but.
“It’s nice, don’t get me wrong,” KSS golf coach Butch Gayton said. “But 12-up is kind of an awkward number. Do you tell the kids to ease off, relax and play to hold the lead? If you only have two or three strokes, of course you want them to bear down. But 12 really isn’t enough (cushion).”
Thanks to the runaway individual victory by Jake Lane and a third-place finish by Megan Radcliffe, it was plenty.
The Kondors claimed their third provincial championship in four years and bounced back from last year’s runner-up finish to shoot a collective +25, good for a nine-stroke win over Collingwood School of West Vancouver and a whopping 20 strokes ahead of third-place Shawnigan Lake.
Lane, a grade 11 student, came out on the second day to shoot 5-under-par through the first four holes, and went on to a 7-under-par 137 over 36 holes to beat Mary Parsons of St. Thomas More Collegiate by five strokes. Ratcliffe, another grade 11, followed one stroke back in third and was the only other golfer under par at -1, 143.
Lane won with remarkable consistency. His 4-under-par 68 on Tuesday matched the low round of the tourney, and he followed with a 69. He was rewarded as soon as the tourney ended, Gayton said, by the appearance of a couple of university scholarship offers to schools in the U.S.
Should he take one of them up on the offer, he would join Ratcliffe, who has already made an oral commitment to play for Division 1 University of Hawaii beginning in 2017.
Ratcliffe was in second place behind Lane after the first round with a 2-under-par 70, but shot 73 Wednesday as Parsons shot a 70 to slip ahead and take the women’s title by the one stroke.
“It’s too bad she didn’t have the low gross for women; that would have been spectacular,” Gayton said of Radcliffe. “I don’t think the men’s and women’s winners have come from the same school before.”
Aidan Goodfellow, a grade 10, finished in a 12th-place tie at 153. Blair Stewart and Anthony Trozzo, both grade 12s, finished at 171 and 172, respectively. The top four scores from each five-member team were counted toward the championship, and Trozzo’s 84 Tuesday and Stewart’s 84 on day two each served as the Kondors’ scoring mark in those rounds.
“Placing 1, 3 and 12, that pretty much wraps it up,” said Gayton. “Tony and Blair kind of patched their rounds together; neither one played to their capacity for the whole tournament, but they did enough to keep us in the hunt.”
Another Grade 12, Masato Wilson, traveled as the team’s alternate and earned praise from Gayton after having played on Kwalikum’s 2014 championship team and also helping the team win its unprecedented sixth straight Vancouver Island championship a week earlier while Radcliffe was attending an event in Ontario.
“Masato was a trooper for coming along, knowing he probably wasn’t going to play,” said Gayton. “He’s already got his name on that provincial trophy — two years ago it was his score that clinched it for us. He helped us win Islands, and he came over and helped the others with their practice round.”
The Capilano course gave everything the school golfers all they could handle, Gayton said. He said conditions were ideal and the course was in beautiful condition, but the greens may have been “as fast as we’ve seen, I’d say, ever,” he noted.
“They were so fast they had to water the greens between foursomes. They had to change some of the pin placements because the ball wouldn’t hold below the hole.”
With Stewart, Trozzo and Wilson all graduating, the Kondors are going to need some new blood to keep their run of provincial success going. But Gayton said the junior program at the school’s home course, Pheasant Glen Golf Resort, has some likely candidates lined up to support the core of Lane, Radcliffe and Goodfellow.
“We’ve got something coming,” he said. “Our strongest year might be next season. The future looks pretty bright, but right now I’m excited for this team and what they accomplished.”