Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: Amy Lee and Jerry Li winners at NextGen opener on Sunshine Coast; B.C. a close third at PNGA Lamey Cup; Svensson struggles on the Green Mile; Rowe wins second straight VGT event

NextGen Pacific Champions Amy Seung Hyun Lee & Jerry Li - Image Credit Chuck Russell/Golf Canada

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

The NextGen Championships put on by Golf Canada each year are what you might call 'junior majors'. Amy Seung Hyun Lee now has won two of them.

Lee, a 15-year-old Langley resident, captured the NextGen Pacific Championship at Sunshine Coast Golf & Country Club.

She went wire-to-wire and won by five shots against an elite field of B.C. juniors.

“I did win another NextGen event in Manitoba last year, but this one is pretty special to me because it is in B.C.,” said Lee, a Grade 9 student at Walnut Grove Secondary. “With the calibre of players here and all the challenging holes on this golf course, I think this one holds a special place in my heart.”

While Lee was dominating the girls’ side of the tournament, Vancouver’s Jerry Li was taking care of business on the boys’ side. Li, a 15-year-old who plays out of Point Grey Golf & Country Club, won by three shots.

Li said he really didn’t feel completely comfortable until he rolled in a 20-footer for birdie on the 17th hole of his final round. He then glanced at a leaderboard on the 18th fairway and saw that he had a three-shot lead. “I was pretty much telling myself, 'don’t five-putt the last green,'” Li said with a laugh.

“It feels pretty good to win. The hard work really paid off. I hit some really good shots this week. I had been struggling a little bit and wasn’t playing very well. This week, something clicked.”

Li took control of the tournament when he fired a five-under 67 in the second round. He closed with a one-over 73 to finish the event at two-under par. That was three shots better than second-place finisher Brenden O’Brien of Victoria. Lee shot a final-round 71 and finished the tournament at even par, five shots ahead of Katherine Hao of Burnaby.

Li and Lee both credited strong short games with being key to their victory. Many of the greens at Sunshine Coast have considerable slope and can be especially penal if you get yourself on the wrong side of the hole. “I tried to focus on my putting and my short game this week,” said Lee, a former B.C. Bantam Girls champion who plays out of Pitt Meadows Golf Club. “These are very difficult greens.”

“Thankfully, it rained really hard on the first day, so they were a little softer,” added Li.

The top eight players in the boys and girls divisions earned exemptions into this summer’s Canadian Junior Boys and Junior Girls Championships.

Click HERE to see the complete final leaderboard. 

STRONG FINISH: British Columbia Golf finished strong at the 16th playing of the PNGA Lamey Cup, winning five singles matches and tying three others. But it wasn’t enough to prevent the Oregon Golf Association from winning the annual Ryder-Cup style competition involving players from the B.C., Idaho, Washington and Oregon golf associations.

This year’s competition was held in Twin Falls, Idaho. Foursomes and four-ball matches were contested on opening day, with singles matches played on day two. Gary Pike, Karen Kloske, Mike Aizawa, Candice Chan and Emery Bardock all earned singles wins for B.C., while Sandra Turbide, John Gallacher and Neil MacLeod tied their matches. B.C. finished the competition with 11.5 points. That was third, behind second-place Washington with 12.5 points and Oregon, with 14.5 points.

TWICE BITTEN: Surrey’s Adam Svensson got bit by the Green Mile, the nickname given the finishing three holes at Quail Hollow Golf Club. Svensson was tied for third at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., when he stepped up to the tee on the par 4 18th hole in Saturday’s third round. But after putting two balls in the water and taking a quadruple-bogey eight, Svensson fell back outside the top 10. The Green Mile got him again in Sunday’s final round, when Svensson made a quadruple bogey on the par 3 17th hole.

He finished the tournament tied for 27th at four-under par, 15 shots behind winner Wyndham Clark, and made $134,125. Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin missed the cut at Quail Hollow by one shot. Hadwin is in the field for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson Classic in McKinney, Tex. Merritt’s Roger Sloan, now a Houston-area resident and a regular on the Korn Ferry Tour, has been given a sponsor’s exemption into the Byron Nelson tourney.

SOLID IN SOUTH AMERICA: Vancouver’s Stuart Macdonald continued his solid play on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica circuit, tying for 17th at the KIA Open in Quito, Ecuador. Macdonald finished the tournament at nine-under par, seven shots behind winner Toni Hakula of Finland. Macdonald now stands 28th on the PGALA points list. The tour’s next stop is the Colombia Classic, which goes May 25-28.

TWO STRAIGHT: Lawren Rowe of Squamish won his second straight Vancouver Golf Tour event, capturing the Sport Surrey Open by one shot over Victoria teen Jeevan Sihota. Rowe, the former University of Victoria standout who now plays out of Squamish Valley Golf Club, closed with a six-under 66 at Surrey Golf Course to finish the 36-hole event at nine-under par.

Rowe earned $3,000 for the win, while Sihota took home $1,800. Andrew Harrison of Vancouver and Edmonton’s Tyler Saunders tied for third at seven-under and each made $1,350. Late last month, Rowe won the VGT’s Sandpiper Open by two shots and made $3,500.

SWISS IMPORT: Simon Fraser University’s women’s golf team has added a Swiss recruit to its program. Claire Dubois of Grandvaux, Switzerland, will join the Red Leafs this fall. “When I started to learn more about SFU, I was directly thrilled about how this university balances athletics and academics so well,” Dubois said in a SFU news release.

The Red Leafs recently captured the GNAC team championship in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and have qualified for the upcoming NCAA Division II West Region Championship in Dallas, Tex. The SFU men’s team is playing in this week’s West/South Central NCAA Division II Championship in Robert Park, Calif.

HOME ON THE RANGE: The golf course will remain closed until at least late next spring, but Redwoods Golf Course in Langley is about to re-open its driving range. In a news release, headlined ‘Finally Some Good News,’ Redwoods says its range will re-open on May 11 after extensive renovations that included drainage and irrigation work, improved lighting for evening practice and new yardage markers.

It will be open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The news on the golf course front is not so good. Redwoods has been closed since April 18, 2022 for work on the TransMountain Pipeline expansion project. “We have high hopes that we will be able to re-open the golf course in the late spring of 2024,” the release said. “We should know more about that timeline later this summer.”

MULTIPLE WINNER: Part-time Vancouver resident Stephen Ames won the PGA Champions’ Mitsubishi Electric Championship at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga. It was the second win of the season for Ames, who had his son Ryan caddying for him. Ames’ 54-hole total of 19-under par was four shots better than Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez.

CHIP SHOTS: Tsawwassen’s John Morrow shot a one-under 71 and advanced at a recent U.S. Open local qualifier at Loomis Trail Golf Course in Blaine, Wash. Morrow is a senior at Seattle University after transferring from the University of Victoria . . .Whistler Golf Club, Nicklaus North and Chateau Whistler are all scheduled to start their seasons on May 12.