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World Junior Girls Championship In Ottawa A Learning Experience For 5 BC Girls By Alfie Lau Scoreb
World Junior Girls Championship In Ottawa A Learning Experience For 5 BC Girls
By Alfie Lau
Scoreboards rarely tell the real story of a golf tournament and for five British Columbia girls who were selected to play at The Marshes for the World Junior Girls Championship, that could not be more true.
While South Koreans and Scandinavians dominated the top of the leaderboard, the Canadian girls, led by Alisha Lau, Kathrine Chan and Euna Han on Team Canada 2 and Hannah Lee, Tiffany Kong and Ontario’s Grace St-Germain on Team Canada 1, were the hometown favourites who bravely played on despite their golf games not being at their peaks.
The five Lower Mainland girls had their shares of ups and downs – tears were shed – but by the final round, when they played together in three groups with girls from China, they were all smiling and celebrating the responsibility of representing Canada with pride and honour.
On the only cold day of the tournament, Lau was sporting a Canada toque, Lee was wearing a headband and golfing mitts were being packed into each player’s golf bags
Team Canada coaches Ann Carroll for Team Canada 1 and Mike Martz for Team Canada 2, could not be more proud of their young charges.
“From a team point of view, it’s nice to see how each of them props the others up,” said Martz. “On day 1, we had Alisha and Euna’s scores counting, and then on day 2 it was Alisha and Kathrine. (On Day 3), it’s Kathrine and Euna so you can see they’ve all chipped in, they all feel like they’re contributing to the team.”
“I think playing in an international event like this excels their learning and gives them confidence that even though they may not have played their best, they still know they can play against other girls from around the world,” said Carroll.
“They tried their best and they put their heart and soul into this and that’s all I can ask.”
Carroll and Martz have tried to create a fun atmosphere without dwelling too much on the results from the actual tournament.
The team stayed in the luxurious Brookstreet Hotel, which overlooks the course and is adjacent to the worldwide head offices for massive tech companies like Wilan and Huawei. This is the world of Sir Terry Matthews, who owns The Marshes and many of the buildings and land all around this area in Kanata, approximately 25 kilometres from downtown Ottawa.
While there's homework to be done each night before their 10 p.m. bedtimes, the girls also took a tour of the sites of Downtown Ottawa, including the Parliament buildings.
In addition, after the second round, all 44 competitors and their coaches had a fun barbecue and mini-golf putting competition at the facility adjacent to the clubhouse.
“It was a fun night and exactly what the girls needed,” said Carroll, who added the night gave all the competitors a chance to be friends first and competitors second. “We’ve been trying to make it as fun as possible for them so they can enjoy the experience.”
As part of the fun quotient, each of the girls was sporting a red Canada maple leaf on their cheek, along with red stripes on the other cheek.
“We did this (the stripes) with red sharpies,” said Alisha Lau.
For Lau, the tournament has also been a great chance to catch up with competitors she played against in Australia earlier in 2015.
“I played with Rebecca Kay (from Queensland, Australia) and we said hi to each other,” said Lau. “The more tournaments you play, the more people you meet and it’s nice to play these big tournaments and know some people you’ve played with before.”
As for their golf, the message the coaches wanted to convey was consistent improvement.
“We learn every day and every day, we get smarter,” Carroll said.
“I’m really happy that I was able to help my team,” said Chan. “I’m trying to get better every day and I’m just trying to play my own game, have fun and shoot the best score I can. . . I’m happy I played better (for Round 2) and got more experience. It was so fun playing with girls from other countries.”
Lau has a unique perspective, having worked with Carroll this year as a member of Team Canada’s Development Squad.
“One of the things I’ve learned is even when I have a bad hole, I get mad for 30 seconds and then I let it go and focus on the next shot,” said Lau. “Our coaches are always working with us, trying to emphasize the positives and telling us we have to keep learning.”
Lau was getting a lot of attention from college golf coaches, who followed her during her rounds and the Richmond native shouldn’t be surprised to be receiving some correspondence from at least one of these coaches when she arrives back home in the Lower Mainland.
“I’m here for the experience,” said Kong. “I had a great experience at the Canadian Open and I think this (has been) a pretty good experience too. . . I have things to work on. I definitely had a lot of fun, meeting new people and playing in this tournament.”
“We’re pretty excited to play in this,” said Lee. “We’re trying to have fun.”
As for Han, the youngest member of the team, age is not something she worries about.
“If you can play well, it doesn’t matter what age you are,” said Han. “I really wanted to make this team and now that I am on it, I have to go and play my own game.”
The Canadians gave up a lot of years, age-wise, but gained a lot of international experience.
The Canadian girls were grouped together for Friday’s final round, with Lau and St-Germain playing in a twosome, Han and Lee playing with China’s Wang Ziyi and Chan and Kong playing with China’s Jin Man.
Chan finished as the top Canadian, showing improvement each day, as she finished at (+14) 302 and a T23 finish.
Kong was the most consistent member of Team Canada 1, finishing at (+18) 306 and 30th place.
Lau, who made five birdies in her opening round, only to have just one in her next two rounds, made three birdies in a four-hole stretch during her opening 9 during her final round. Lau would finish in 35th place at (+26) 314.
Han, the youngest golfer in the entire tournament, played with a maturity beyond her years, finishing T37 at (+31) 319.
Lee struggled, especially with her bunker play, but still had a smile on her face each morning before she teed off. Lee finished in 39th position at (+32) 320.
Hometown favourite Grace St-Germain also had a tough week, but buoyed by the support of her family and friends, she bravely played on, even giving her fans a thrill with an opening hole birdie during her final round. St-Germain finished T37 at (+31) 319.
Carroll and Martz reflected on their week with the young golfers.
“I really enjoyed working with these girls and while the result wasn’t what we wanted, I hope that the girls had fun out there, learned a lot about their games and take the positives from here and build on it.”
“I loved working with these girls and seeing how they helped each other,” said Martz. “Alisha is a good fighter, she’s a good leader and she was a model for her teammates to look up to. Katherine is phenomenal. She strikes the ball well and I love her attitude. She has the ability to focus on what has to be done. And Euna, what a great athlete. She’s only 13 and she has a tremendous future in front of us.”
Carroll was also effusive in praise for her team.
“Grace learned a lot about herself this week because she had the pressure of being the hometown girl,” said Carroll. “Tiffany, I loved her demeanour. She’s so steady, doesn’t get rattled and you could see that in how she played. Hannah, she’s a good player who just had a tough week, but she was a great teammate.”
Team Canada 2 finished 13th in the team competition, one spot ahead of Team Canada 1.
And if there’s any scenes which captures the true spirit of these golfers, it’s during the opening ceremony on Monday afternoon.
Standing in golf blazers, skirts and black dress shoes, the six girls were nervously waiting for the bagpiper to lead the 15 teams out for the ceremony.
Lau and St-Germain were hugging each other, while Han and Chan were sitting down, to give their feet a rest. Kong and Lee were quietly off to the side, both proud of the fact they would be representing Canada and hopeful the ceremonies would be done with soon so they could get back to what they’re most comfortable doing: playing golf.
They would hear The Marshes owner Sir Terry Matthews, the high-tech billionaire, telling the competitors how proud he was to have them on his course, and Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Jocelyne Bourassa told them to compete and have fun and make new friends because these are the same girls many of them will be competing against in the years to come.
And while they all wanted to get back into their golf clothes, the one last thing they needed to do: Go outside and pose with the Canadian flag and take the requisite selfie to capture the moment.
Photo - It's a chilly morning in Ottawa, but all 6 Canadian girls, including 5 from BC are on the co
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Halfway through the World Junior Girls and it looks like South Korea is the team to beat. Full story
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On a day when many international players broke par and tamed The Marshes during Round 2 of the World Junior Girls Championship, Team Canada 1 and 2 had a tough day on the links.
Richmond’s Alisha Lau is the top Canadian after her second-round (+2) 74 has her at (+6) 150 for the tournament. Her Team 2 teammate Kathrine Chan also improved on her opening round 79 with a (+3) 75 which included two birdies in her final three holes. Chan sits at (+4) 154, the same score as teammate Euna Han, who shot a second round 79 to go with her opening round 75.
“I improved by four shots on the second hole,” said Lau of her only birdie on Wednesday. “I hit it to three feet and made the putt, so I’m happy with that. I missed a six-footer for birdie late and then made a couple of bogeys, but I had a lot of good looks at birdie, and I scored better today than the first day.”
Chan also improved and was happy she was able to contribute a counting score for her team.
“Coach told us we should try and get better every day,” said Chan. “I’m happy I played better today and got more experience. It was so fun playing with girls from other countries.”
Han was disappointed in her round and said she’ll work on all aspects of her game Wednesday afternoon before all the golfers and their coaches go off to a barbecue and fun mini-putt competition.
Team Canada 2 coach Mike Martz was happy with how his girls kept fighting all day long.
“They did a good job today hanging in there,” said Martz. “Yesterday, Alisha and Euna’s scores counted and today, it was Kathrine and Alisha. That’s what a team does, it plays together and so when Euna struggled today, the others are there to pick up the team.”
Team Canada 1 had a tougher day on the links, as Vancouver’s Tiffany Kong shot a (+7) round of 79 and is now at (+10) 154. Surrey’s Hannah Lee is at (+13) 157 after a second round (+8) 80. Orleans, ON’s Grace St-Germain sits at (+15) 159 after a second-round 81.
“I need to work on my short game,” said Kong. “My chipping, sand game and putting weren’t good enough, so I have to work on that and try to get better.”
Lee had a tough day, save for her only birdie, a 40-foot putt on the 9th hole which put a smile on the Surrey native’s face.
Team Canada 1 coach Ann Carroll tried to give her team a pep talk after the round.
“They tried their best and they put their heart and soul into this and that’s all I can ask,” said Carroll. “We’ve been trying to make it as fun as possible for them so they can enjoy the experience.”
But the story at the top of the leaderboard is South Korea’s three golfers, who all shot under par during the second round and handily lead the team competition and occupy two of the top three spots on the individual leaderboard.
Eun-soo Jang opened with an even-par 72 and shot a (-5) round of 67 to sit at (-5) 139. Her round included six birdies and only one bogey, and Jang takes the lead by one stroke over Denmark’s Cecilie Bofill, who shot a (-4) round of 68 and sits at (-4) 140.
Jang is a little under the weather, which makes her second round score even more remarkable.
Jang’s teammate, Hye-jin Choi, had a share of the opening round lead at (-2) 70 and recorded another under-par round, (-1) 71, to sit at (-3) 141, two strokes behind her teammate.
Another great round was put up by France’s Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, just 15 years old, who carded a (-5) round of 67 to rocket up the leaderboard to solo fourth place, just three strokes behind Jang. Roussin-Bouchard, who was in the opening twosome with Italy’s Carolina Caminoli, had opened with a (+3) 75 and the duo was done their round in just over four hours.
In the team completion, South Korea holds a commanding six-stroke lead, as their (-9) score of 279 is well ahead of Denmark’s (-3) score of 285. Sweden is another two strokes back at (-1) 287 and these three countries are the only ones under par at the midway point of this tournament.
Canada 2 is in 12th place at (+12) 300, while Canada 1 is in 14th place.
Round 3 of the World Junior Girls at The Marshes starts at 8 a.m. Thursday.