Perseverance Pays Off As Leah John Wins B.C. Women’s Amateur Championship At Summerland GC

Vancouver's Leah John Is The 2021 B.C. Women's Amateur Champion - image credit Jerome Goddard/BC Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

SUMMERLAND -- A win is sometimes that much sweeter when it has been preceded by so much hard work and occasional setbacks. Perhaps that’s why Leah John seemed so delighted with her win Friday at the116th playing of the B.C. Women’s Amateur Championship at Summerland Golf Club.

Like that noted philosopher Ringo Starr, John knows better than most that moments like this one don’t come easy.

Perseverance paid off for the 21-year-old Vancouver resident, who plays out of Marine Drive Golf Club and collegiately at the University of Nevada. John had come oh so close on a couple of previous occasions at British Columbia Golf championships.

Back in 2018, she let the B.C. Junior Girls Championship slip through her fingers when she lost in a playoff at Kimberley Golf Club. Last summer, she was in the hunt at the B.C. Women’s Amateur at Campbell River Golf Club, but faded in the final round.

So on Friday, John had to convince herself she could do it. And she did just that in style as she recorded a four-shot win over West Vancouver’s Jennifer Gu. “It feels good, this is like the biggest tournament I have ever won,” she said. “I had a good college season, but I really struggled a lot with my ball-striking and I worked really hard to get it back. This means a lot and suggests I should keep doing what I am doing.”

Apart from one or two anxious moments, John never looked like she was going to lose her lead. She began the day with a two-shot cushion and stretched that advantage to as many as five shots. She’d like to have her opening tee shot back, however. The nines were reversed for the final two days and that meant players were starting their rounds on Summerland’s tougher back nine.

John pulled her tee shot on the par 4 opening hole left and had to chip backwards into the fairway. She managed to make a bogey and that seemed to help settle her down. She birdied three holes in a four-hole stretch early on her front nine to take control of the tournament. “Those birdies helped calm me down,” she said.

“It was definitely tough out there, but what my mom always told me was that you have to make the other players work for it and par is always a good score. I just kind of kept it steady.”

image credit Jerome Goddard/BC Golf

Jennifer Gu Held The Lead Early In The Tourney But Had To Settle For A Runner-up Finish

It helped that playing partners Gu and Vancouver’s Victoria Liu failed to apply much pressure on John. Gu, an 18-year-old who is a member of Canada’s national junior team, battled a balky putter much of the day. She three-putted five greens, including a stretch of four in a row to start the back nine. “I had a couple of putts that got away from me and I just kind of lost my confidence and started lagging even the shorter putts,” Gu said.

John closed with an even-par 74 to finish the 72-hole event at four-under par. Gu rallied with some late birdies to shoot a one-over 75 to finish at even-par. Liu was third at one-over after shooting a 75 Friday. “I came here with a smile and I am leaving with a smile, so I guess that is always good news,” Gu said. “I am trending in the right direction and I am excited about the rest of my season. There is a lot of golf left to play this summer. So I am pretty stoked.”

John had her dad Jason on her bag as caddy and her mom Lynn walked all four rounds. “I think this is the first time my mom has watched me play in about a year and a half,” John said. “She is always too nervous to come see me play so it was really special to have her here. And then my dad being on the bag, he’s great. He probably gave me two pieces of advice the entire round and they were good ones.

"These are always the best trips for my dad and I. We have a blast. It is definitely very special. He taught me how to play golf when I was a kid and for him to see this so closely, it’s so great.”

Fellow Marine Drive member Nonie Marler soaked John with some bottled water after she tapped in her final putt on the 18th green. John acknowledged that some of those past disappointments helped prepare her for the pressure she faced on Friday. “You know, every loss is a learning experience,“ she said. “You either win or learn. I have learned that I love competition, it’s where I thrive and I push myself to embrace it.”

She was presented the historic Flumerfelt Trophy and her name will be added to an impressive list of past champions. “I am super stoked to be amongst all of those amazing players,” John said. “It’s just reassuring in a way. You always have days where you are like, I suck, I can never do it. So just having something like this happen is special.”

Click HERE for complete final scoring.

CHIP SHOTS: A two-woman better-ball competition was also contested this week. The team of Katherine Hao of Burnaby and Martina Yu of Coquitlam won with a score of 18-under. That was one shot better than the team of Gu and Rebecca Reitsma of Kelowna. . .Jessica Ng of Vancouver shot the low round of the tournament Friday, a four-under 70. . .The B.C. Junior Girls & Boys Championships are next up on the British Columbia Golf Championship schedule. They go Tuesday through Friday at Morningstar Golf Course in Parksville.