Harper, Chang win BC Juvenile Championships 

Nicklaus North's Walker takes 12th

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - GREAT GOLF Leo Harper (centre) with William Bishop (left) and Daniel Bennett (right) after the BC Juvenile Championships.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • GREAT GOLF Leo Harper (centre) with William Bishop (left) and Daniel Bennett (right) after the BC Juvenile Championships.

Burnaby Mountain Golf Course's Leo Harper pulled off a come-from-behind victory in the boys' event at the BC Juvenile Championships at The Meadows at Pemberton on Aug. 15.

Trailing Victoria's William Bishop by two strokes heading into the third and final round, Harper blazed to a five-under-par front nine at the same time Bishop posted a three-over to stake out his advantage. In the end, Harper put up a 54-hole score of six-under to best Victoria's Daniel Bennett by four strokes and Bishop by six strokes.

"I knew if I played well, [Bishop] would also have to play well," the 16-year-old said of his approach to the final round.

The big shot for Harper was hitting an eagle (two-under-par) on No. 7 from roughly 70 yards out before nearly acing the No. 8 and also birdieing No. 9. At the midpoint, Harper went into protection mode.

"I just thought I'd play it safe, make some putts if I can. I didn't really want to take out a driver. I don't think I hit one driver on the back," said Harper, who finished just one shot back in last year's tournament.

Harper heated up over the course of the tournament's three days, slashing his score by a steady two strokes each time out. He credited feeling more confident with his putting for the improvement.

"I just knew that if I could keep relying on tee shots that the putts would fall," he said.

Harper said with some narrow fairways, it was especially important to hit tee shots straight, adding that it was difficult to putt from outside 10 feet. While that style of play doesn't mesh well with his approach, Harper made the adjustments necessary to win.

The lone local player in the tournament, Nicklaus North Golf Course's Stewart Walker, placed 12th. Walker put up scores of six-over and seven-over in the first two rounds of play to find himself off the winning pace, but the 14-year-old rallied in Round 3, with a four-under 68 to tie Harper and Burnaby's Andy Luo for the best single round of the week.

"I was 13-over, so I didn't really have much to lose, so I just went for every shot," he said. "On the first two days ... I wanted to play it safe because I'm still in it on the first couple of days.

"After I made the cut, I knew I wasn't going to win, so I just played as hard as I could."

Walker said the slower greens and choppiness of the fairway in some parts of the course made play difficult.

At 14, Walker was one of the younger golfers taking part, and with this event on his calendar in the future, he hopes to find himself higher up the leaderboard as he continues to progress with coach Graham Kehoe.

"It would be nice to shoot the same round as I did today and, getting older, I'll be hitting it longer and playing better, so that should be good," he said.

In the girls' event, Alyssa Chang of Meadow Gardens Golf Club won with a 54-hole score result of one-over-par, besting clubmate Martina Yu by three strokes. Richmond's Sherri Yang was seven strokes back.

Chang led the whole way, putting up a one-over 73 on Day 1 before posting back-to-back even-par 72s. With the opportunity coming into the final round to hang on for the win, the 16-year-old made a point of trying to stay calm to lock it down.

While Yu closed the gap to just one stroke on No. 12, Chang kept an even keel to secure the win.

"Golf is such a mental sport, so I knew after my first two rounds that I played well," she said. "I had to stay calm and not let my nerves get to me."

Chang said her putting was key to the win, especially with a new putter in her hands.

"I was trying to get used to that ... and so that really helped my game out. My hitting wasn't that great, so my short game was definitely what was good," she said.

Chang added that she sometimes experiences slow greens at her home course, so it helped her adjust in the tournament.

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