The golfers may be among the youngest athletes from the various sports training in Langford’s burgeoning “Olympic Corridor,” but certainly not the least. They are talented enough to harbour the grandest of dreams.
Virtually all members of the Canadian men’s and women’s U-19 national golf teams list the NCAA as their immediate goal and the Olympics and respective PGA and LPGA tours as their long-term ambitions. They proved this week, in the Americas qualifying tournament which concluded Thursday on Bear Mountain, they are good enough to back up those dreams by advancing to the 2018 Toyota Junior World Cup from June 10-15 in Toyota City, Japan.
The 54-hole stroke play tournament on the Valley Course was comprised of Canada, Mexico, Guatemala and Puerto Rico. The Canadian players, centralized on Bear Mountain at the Golf Canada national training centre, are already honourary Islanders and by now well acquainted with the wet and blustery spring conditions which greeted the visiting Latin American golfers this week.
“We’re kind of now used to it and enjoy playing in the rain. So we used it to our advantage this week. It was a bonus for us,” said Céleste Dao of Notre-Dame-de-lîle-Perrot, Que., who was the women’s individual champion.
“It feels pretty great knowing we are going to represent Canada at the Junior World Cup. It’s a team event, so you want to help your Canadian teammates by playing as well as you can,” added Dao, an online Grade 11 student, already committed to the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
Relocating her life to the West Coast wasn’t easy, but worth it, she said.
“The national centralized program at Bear Mountain has been such a great experience preparing us for college and international play,” said Dao.
“You miss home sometimes, but we are doing so much great stuff here and learning so much, from mental preparation and how to eat properly.”
The men’s division consisted of four athletes per team and women’s three per team, each recording a combined total from the three lowest scores per round, leaving out the highest score. The two-lowest team scores qualified for the Junior World Cup.
Dao was joined on the Canadian women’s team by Monet Chun of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Alyssa DiMarcantonio of Maple, Ont.
Canada shot 439 to win the women’s qualifier while Mexico also advanced to Japan with a second-place 450 total to Guatemala’s 498 and Puerto Rico’s 503.
Dao was the individual female champion with a three-round total of 218 with Chun tied for second at 73 and DiMarcantonio, who is only 14, eighth at 245.
The Canadian men’s team was represented by Bear Mountain-based national development team members Nolan Thoroughgood of Victoria, Johnny Travale of Stoney Creek, Ont., Christopher Vandette of Beaconsfield, Que., and Peyton Callens of Langton, Ont.
Canada and Mexico tied with 662 totals and both teams advanced to the Junior World Cup. Guatemala was at 694 and Puerto Rico 721. Mauricio Figueroa of Mexico was low individual with a three-round total of 214 while Travale was second overall and low-Canadian at 217. Callens was fourth at 222, Thoroughgood fifth at 224 and Vandette sixth at 225.