Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: Former B.C. Bantam champ laps field in South Africa; Taylor ties for 15th at Texas Open, where fellow Canadian Corey Conners wins for second time; Macdonald goes low in Brazil; SFU women win

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

A former B.C. Bantam Boys champion now living in South Africa has made world-wide headlines after winning a prestigious junior tournament by 21 shots.

Daniel Bennett, a former Victoria-area resident who played out of Gorge Vale Golf Club, won the 2020 Bantam Boys title by six shots at Mount Brenton Golf Course in Chemainus. Shortly afterward, he and his family returned to their native South Africa.

Bennett, now 17, shot scores of 62, 61, 68 and 63 to win last week’s Nomads South Africa Boys Under 19 Stroke Play Championship with an amazing score of 34-under par. Golf Digest was among the publications making note of Bennett’s big win.

“It’s something special for me to win this way,” Bennett, now a Durban resident, said after his win. “As soon as I teed off on the first day, I never looked back. There are some great names on this trophy, like Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Dylan Fritelli, Thirston Lawrence and Jayden Schaper. I’m thrilled that I get to add my name to the list. If I can continue playing some good golf, hopefully I can reach the levels they have reached in the game.”

Bennett and his family returned to South Africa not long after their rental home in Saanichton burned down and his father had trouble obtaining a Canadian work visa. Debbie Pyne, managing director of player development with British Columbia Golf, remembers Bennett as a good kid with a great sense of humour. “It’s super awesome to see him playing so well,” Pyne said.

AUGUSTA SPOTLIGHT: Surrey’s Ha Young Chang tied for sixth in her 14- and 15-year-old age group at the finals of the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. The nationally televised finals were held at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Chang, a Grade 9 student at Elgin Park Secondary in Surrey, had to play her way through three qualifiers to reach the finals. She and her family received passes to take in Monday’s practice rounds for this week’s Masters tournament.

SUPER SEASON: Fellow Canadian Corey Conners, deservedly so, got all the headlines, but Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor had another fine tournament at the Valero Texas Open. Taylor closed with a one-under 70 to finish the event tied for 15th at seven-under par. That was eight shots behind Conners, who won his second Texas Open. Taylor is enjoying his best season on the PGA TOUR. He has four top-10s in the 2022-23 season and three other finishes inside the top 20.

Taylor earned $135,725 on Sunday to push his earnings for the 2022-23 season to $3,479,435. As well as he has played, Taylor failed to qualify for this week’s Masters. Fellow British Columbian Adam Svensson of Surrey does have a spot in the Augusta National field, thanks to his win this past fall at the RSM Classic. It will be Svensson’s first Masters appearance.

MACDONALD GOES LOW: Vancouver’s Stuart Macdonald had quite the finish at the JHSF Aberto do Brasil tourney on the PGA Latinoamerica circuit. Macdonald carded a 10-under 61, the low round of the tournament, and finished tied for sixth at 14-under par. That was five shots behind tournament winner Charlie Hillier of New Zealand. Macdonald’s 29 on the front nine at Fazenda Boa Vista Golf Course in Porto Feliz, Brazil included seven birdies and two pars. He had six straight pars to start his back nine and then closed his bogey-free round with three straight birdies.

Macdonald’s finish should get him into the next PGA Tour LA event, the Diners Club Peru Open, which goes April 27-30. The Korn Ferry Tour was also in South America, where Merritt’s Roger Sloan tied for 36th at the Astara Chile Classic in Santiago. Sloan finished the event at 12-under par, nine shots behind winner Ben Kohles of Dallas. Richmond’s Chris Crisologo missed the cut in what was his Korn Ferry Tour debut. The Korn Ferry Tour resumes April 13-16 at the Veritex Bank Championship in Arlington, Tex.

OUT OF THE POOL: After a 32-year run, the Vancouver Resource Society is ending its popular majors golf pools. This week’s Masters Golf Pool (entry deadline is 3 a.m. Thursday, April 6) will be the final one for the VRS, which has used proceeds of the pool to fund its work in the community, “I am amazed how long it has gone,” said Murray Hamilton of the VRS. “It has had a wonderful run for us. But this is going to be the last one.” Here is a link to the pool if you’d like to enter: vrsgolfpool.org

PLAYOFF WINNER: Duncan’s Tristan Mandur beat Langley’s James Allenby on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the Vancouver Golf Tour’s Gatekeeper Systems Open at Mayfair Lakes in Richmond. Both players had completed the 36-hole event at one-under par. Mandur, the 2020 B.C. Amateur champion, earned $3,300 for the win. Allenby took home $2,300. Lawren Rowe of Squamish and Rodolfo Caparas of Mill Creek, Wash., tied for third at even par and each earned $1,350.

WIN FOR RED LEAFS: The Simon Fraser University women’s team earned its first win of the season at the San Marcos Shootout in Temecula, Calif. The Red Leafs completed the 36-hole event at 34-over par, two shots better than Point Loma Nazarene University of San Diego. Langley’s Sueah Park led the way for SFU with a fourth-place finish in the individual competition. Her six-over score was four shots behind winner Alli Kim of PLNU. Other members of SFU’s winning team included Meera Minhas of Burnaby, Shirin Anjarwalla of Nanaimo, Natasha Kozlowski of Prince George and Chloe Tran of Langley.

The SFU men also had a good week, finishing second at the Hanny Stanislaus Invitational in Turlock, Calif. The Red Leafs finished the event at 17-over, 10 shots behind the winning team from Western Washington University. SFU’s Jordan Bean closed with a five-under 67 that included six birdies and an eagle. The Canmore, Alta., native and teammate Aidan Goodfellow of Parksville both tied for 12th.

SEASON-OPENER: Kevin Stinson of Cheam Mountain and Kallis Carson of the Pacific Golf Academy both shot even-par 72s to share medalist honours at the season-opening event of the G&G Tour at Richmond Country Club. Both took home $825. Northview Golf Club’s Greg Pool finished solo third at one-over par and made $600.

CHIP SHOTS: Coquitlam’s Henry Lee finished fifth at the Asher Tour’s Bear Creek Shootout in Murrieta, Calif. Lee completed the 54-hole event at one-under par, three shots behind winner Joshua Matz of Agoura, Calif. . . Victoria’s Nolan Thoroughgood, a senior at Oregon State University, tied for 14th at the University of Oregon’s Duck Invitational at Eugene Country Club.