Royal Colwood to play host to international Astor Trophy

The idea of a Commonwealth golf championship seems quaint by today’s sporting standards. But back in another era, it was a big deal.

Yet these are still the ties that bind, as will be evident when the 2019 Astor Trophy event takes place from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 at Royal Colwood. Formerly the Commonwealth women’s championship, it changed its name when Ireland was added to the roster of nations in 2007.

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Canada will compete against national amateur teams from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland in the quadrennial championship, which was first hosted in 1959 on the Old Course at St. Andrews.

Canada’s four-player team headed to Royal Colwood was announced Wednesday. Heading the list is 2018 B.C. women’s amateur champion Mary Parsons of Delta, an NCAA Indiana University Hoosiers junior who won the bronze medal with the Canadian mixed team this month at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. Parsons was fifth in the Pan Am Games individual women’s event.

Joining Parsons on the Canadian team will be Noémie Paré of Victoriaville, Que., Emily Zhu of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Brooke Rivers of Brampton, Ont.

The team represents the future of Canadian golf. Rivers is only 14 and is already listed in the international amateur rankings. Zhu, centralized at the Golf Canada national training centre on Bear Mountain, is 15 and this summer won the 2019 Canadian junior championship held in Lethbridge, Alta.

The Canadian team for the Astor Trophy will be coached by the Bear Mountain national training centre-based women’s junior national team head coach Matt Wilson.

The format will include two foursomes and four singles matches each day in rotation among the nations.

This is the fourth time Canada has hosted, following Marine Drive in 1999, Glendale in Edmonton in 1983 and Hamilton, Ont., in 1967.

Canada has won twice — in 1987 at Christchurch, New Zealand, and in 1979 at Lake Karrinyup, Australia.

Australia is the defending champion. Britain has won the most titles with eight followed by Australia with five, Canada with two and Ireland with a co-title shared in 2011 when it tied with Britain.

Many of Canada’s top female golfers have represented the nation in this event. The late Margaret Todd of Victoria captained Canada in the 1963 Commonwealth championships at Royal Melbourne in Australia.

Other Island golfers to have played in the tournament include Naomi Ko of Victoria and the late LPGA pro Dawn Coe-Jones of Lake Cowichan in her amateur days. Notables on the Canadian team have included Lorie Kane, Marlene Streit and E.J. Eathorne.

International players of note in the Astor Trophy competition have included LPGA pro and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Scotswoman Catriona Matthew of Britain, who also the captained Europe in the 2019 Solheim Cup.

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