Morningstar A Tough Test For B.C.’s Top Juniors

Jennifer Gu Leads The Girls Competition, While Ryan Vest (Shown Here) And Gavyn Knight Share Boys Lead - Image Credit Brad Ziemer/BC Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

PARKSVILLE -- The golf course is winning through two rounds of the B.C. Junior Boys and Girls Championships. Morningstar Golf Club is proving to be a difficult test for a collection of this province’s best young players. Par has been a good score at Morningstar. In fact, no one is under par through 36 holes.

Vernon’s Ryan Vest and Gavyn Knight of Parksville share the lead on the boys’ side at one-over par. Jennifer Gu of West Vancouver leads the girls’ competition at even-par.

There has yet to be a round in the 60s this week. John Randle, Morningstar’s director of golf, is somewhat surprised. “With the recent dry weather and how firm it is playing, I thought it would be a great test,” Randle said.

“But given how receptive the greens were earlier in the week and how short it is playing . . . I thought if you got your ball-striking going you could go relatively low. I am surprised to date no one has gone 66, 67, or 68.”

That may well happen in the final two rounds, but players thus far have had difficulty avoiding some of the trouble that seems to be lurking on many of the holes here. Vest, who turns 15 later this month, looked like he was going to have the outright lead. But he double-bogeyed his last hole -- the par 5 ninth -- when he tried to reach the green in two from 250 yards out and came up short into the water.

“I had 250 (yards) and tried to hit hybrid and I just hit it so bad,” Vest said. “I had a solid start. I had five birdies on the front. The putter was hot, I was rolling everything in. The back was going good. I just shouldn’t have gone for the green in two.”

Vest and Knight both shot one-under 71s on Wednesday. Knight had a better finish to his day as he birdied the last hole. “I am pretty pleased,” he said of his round. “I bogeyed a couple of holes coming in, but it was pretty good.”

Knight has something of a home-course advantage this week. The 17-year-old has worked part-time at Morningstar the past couple of years and has logged loads of rounds on the course. “I thought I made some more putts today,” Knight said. “The ball-striking was pretty much the same as yesterday.”

Knight and Vest have a one-shot lead on three players -- Cooper Humphreys of Kelowna, Bailey Bjornson of Surrey and Eli Harris of Kelowna. The 36-hole cut for the boys came at 16-over par. Fifty-two players made the cut. On the girls side, the cut was 18-over. Twenty-four girls will play the final two rounds.

Gu, an 18-year-old member of Canada’s national junior team, will carry a five-shot lead into Thursday’s third round. She carded a two-over 74 Wednesday and struggled with her ball-striking. “My ball-striking was not there,” Gu said.

“I was scrambling, I was scraping it around. I shot two-over which was a good score. I kept it kosher. I put the driver away after 11 because it was just going so sideways. I could not hold a green. I scrambled. It was a grind. I am proud of my grit. Sometimes the day gives you a not so great swing and you work with it. . .It’s another day tomorrow.”

June Hsiao of Coquitlam sits alone in second at five-over shooting a 74 Wednesday. Katherine Hao of Burnaby is alone in third at six-over. She fired a second-round 75.

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CHIP SHOTS: A 36-hole Zone competition concluded Wednesday. Jennifer Gu and Katherine Hao won the girls title for Zone 4 with a score of six-over par. The Zone 2 team of Cooper Humphreys , Austin Armanini and Eli Harris won the boys’ competition with a score of four-over par.