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Prince George golfers win at Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour event

Prince George golfer Natasha Kozlowski
Prince George golfer Natasha Kozlowski

There were Prince George golfers in the winner’s circle at the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour Ford Series at the Chilliwack Golf and Country Club on the weekend.

Natasha Kozlowski, 17, shot 80-84 (164) and claimed the MJT Girls 15-18 Division title with a six-shot win over Abbotsford-local, Lucy Park. The MJT Junior Boys Division Hoselton Trophy was won handily by Prince George native, Cody Bailey (79-70).

Kozlowski commented on what this tournament meant to her after the round by saying: “For young golfers like me, the MJT events are a great way to gain tournament experience.”

Kozlowski will be sure to use the experience she acquired from her win in Chilliwack as she prepares for university golf next year.

With a one-shot lead going into the final round, Bailey went on to make five birdies and an eagle and shoot a two-under 70 to win by 10 shots over Langley, BC native Riley Geiger.

“It feels extra special winning,” said Bailey. “I just decided to stop my other sport and pursue golf. This win validates the choice I made.”

Bailey is expecting to play a few more events this year on the MJT with his recent decision.

Despite thunder and lightning suspending play on day one and winds gusting to 35kph, they managed to battle it out on an elite golf course that played home to the Canadian university/college championships just one year ago. The course also hosted the MJT Chilliwack Ford Go Golf Junior Clinic on the weekend, which offered a free introduction to golf for boys and girls ages six to 12 years old.

The tournament players in seven divisions were eyeing spots in the US Kids Golf World and Teen Championships, as well as the chance to win a new Ford EcoSport with a hole-in-one on the 14th hole.

Other winners were:

With great scoring in the MJT Bantam Boys Division where a mighty contest took place between Vancouver native, Aaron Huang and Abbotsford-local, Isaac Bedwell. After an opening round of 69 from Bedwell and a two-shot lead, it was consistent performance from Huang that led to his comeback to claim the Hoselton Trophy by three shots. Attributing the win to his play on the greens, Huang said, “my putting was good throughout the whole event. I sank some longer putts which led to my win.” Huang finished the tournament with scores of 71 and 72 (143) which included nine birdies.

In the MJT Girls U15 Division, 12-year old Luna Lu finished two-under in her last five holes on Sunday to claim a come-from-behind victory over 11-year old Yanling(Elaine) Liu and 13-year old, Erin Lee. Lu, after signing her scorecard, said, “I made a 15-foot birdie putt on hole 14 and that turned my round around and gave me momentum. When I made my birdie putt on the last hole, I felt really happy because all the work I’ve done on my game finally paid off.” Lu also walks away with the Low Overall Girls score (77-74=151).

The MJT Peewee Boys title was won by Vancouver native, Ryan Liang by a convincing 11 shots (72-76). Liang got off to a hot start day one, firing an even-par 72 which included four birdies. “My putting gave me confidence,” he said. “After that, I started hitting the ball better and driving it in the fairway.” Runner-up in the division was 11-year old Harvey Liu who carded rounds of 83 and 76 (158).

Kyle Mayner, 16, from Kelowna, BC, came back from a three-shot deficit in round one to win the MJT Juvenile title by six shots over Burnaby, BC native Andy Luo. Struggling on the par fives on Saturday, Mayner bounced back playing the par fives one-under on Sunday. But his real resurgence came from the help of the conditions, “I struggled at the beginning of the tournament going plus four on my first five holes. Then the storm delay happened. Following the delay, I made a great up-and-down from 60 yards for par and that was pivotal in finding my groove.”

Ryan Austin of Surrey, BC rounds out the winners with his six-shot MJT Collegiate Division victory over Davide Kaiser. “The MJT is an awesome tour that allows me to be competitive in my favorite sport,” said Austin. “This is my first win and I look forward to playing with Davide again.” 

The next Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour stop in BC is the MJT TaylorMade Series at University Golf Club in Vancouver on May 4 and 5.

The non-profit Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour presented by Boston Pizza is Canada’s number one-played Junior Golf Tour as well as the only national junior tour run exclusively by PGA of Canada Professionals and the ‘Road to College Golf’ in Canada. The organization is presented nationally by Boston Pizza and supported by valued Premier, Tournament and Product Partners. The MJT hosts close to 80 events across Canada, including free Ford Go Golf Junior Clinics, the MJT Mini Tour for seven- to 12-year-olds, the Collegiate Tour for 19- to 23-year-olds, and multi-day events for competitive players aged 11 to 18 which are also qualifiers for international competitions. The program offers annual awards, scholarships, and frequent player incentives to help reward player’s performance and participation throughout each season. MJT alumni include many Professional Tour players and PGA of Canada Professionals, as well as Canadian Amateur, National and Provincial Junior Champions. The MJT aims to develop champions, in golf and in life, promoting the game from grassroots through to provincial, national, university and professional level. For more information, see www.maplejt.com.

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