Liu, Campbell River course big winners in B.C. Women's Amateur Golf Championship

Prodigy Michelle Liu, the youngest player ever to qualify for the Canadian Open at age 12 last year, continued her sharp climb by winning the B.C. women’s amateur championship Thursday.

The real champion, however, might have been the host Campbell River Golf and Country Club.

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“The reaction was that the players loved the course. It’s not the longest course but the greens are pure bent grass and challenging,” said head pro Kyle Stoudt.

“[B.C. Golf] approached us about two months ago, when many sports were cancelled, and we accepted the challenge to stage this tournament.”

It was the fourth live, organized sporting event on the Island as sport continues its return after the shutdown in March. The first was the Sidney Velo Club’s cycling individual time-trial races, which began in July and conclude on Tuesday, in an event that has featured future Olympians and pros since 1980. The next two organized events were the Canada Life Series pro golf tournaments on Bear Mountain this month, a consolation for the cancelled 2020 Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada season.

The fifth event will be the Canada 200 on Sept 6 at Western Speedway as Western Canada’s oldest auto-racing track – which produced respective Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 drivers Billy Foster and Roy Smith and has featured the likes of Tom Sneva, Janet Guthrie and Bobby Allison — will continue an unbroken tradition of having racing every year since its opening in 1954.

But while Western Speedway has been around since Sinatra was crooning, the Campbell River Golf and Country Club is the brash new kid on the Island sporting block since its opening in 2017.

“It was previously Sequoia Springs and has been completely redesigned over 18 holes and is locally owned with a new vision for the game of golf in our city,” said Stoudt, a native of Campbell River and 15-year pro, with previous stints at Storey Creek in his hometown, Big Sky in Pemberton and Tower Ranch in Kelowna.

Phase 1 additions include a new state-of-the-art driving range with a Top Tracer system and a 2,400 square-foot retail, locker room and club storage building. Future phases envision a 97-room hotel, spa, pool, restaurant and convention centre.

It was all fine by new provincial women’s amateur champion Liu of Vancouver. She joined Tristan Mandur of Mill Bay, the NCAA Pac-12 University of Utah Utes performer, who won the 118th B.C. men’s amateur last month in Kelowna.

Liu shot a six-under 204 over 54 holes on the Campbell River Club’s verdant and gently rolling fairways, and fast and firm greens, which was seven strokes clear of runner-up Lauren Kim of Surrey. Rebecca Kim of Victoria Club was tied for eighth.

The B.C. women’s mid-amateur and senior championships were held concurrently with the provincial amateur. Shelly Stouffer of Nanoose Bay celebrated her first year in senior competition in convincing fashion by capturing the provincial title by a crushing 12 strokes with a six-over 216. Nonie Marler of Marine Drive won the B.C. women’s mid-amateur at 220, ahead of runner-up Christina Proteau of Port Alberni (231).

With B.C. announcing Phase 3 this week of the return to sport, re-openings will increase. The Zack Downey Memorial B.C. Premier Baseball League tournament will be held at Layritz Park from Sept. 18 to 21. The Island Cup pre-season B.C. Hockey League tournament will begin Oct. 2.

Even though Langford lost its bid to host the abbreviated 2020 Canadian Premier League pro soccer season, Pacific FC is at least playing somewhere, as action in the CPL tournament has been lively and engaging in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

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