Song Bai Leads B.C. Junior Boys Championship By Four Following 3rd Round 66
Song Bai Jumped Out To A Four-Shot Lead Following A 3rd Round 66 At The B.C. Junior Boys Championship At Kamloops G&CC - Image Credit Brad Ziemer/BC Golf
By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf
KAMLOOPS -- Song Bai played in last year’s B.C. Junior Boys Championship at Squamish Valley Golf Club and missed the cut after shooting rounds of 82 and 83. This year? Well, that’s been quite a different story. A rather remarkable one.
Bai, a 16-year-old who plays out of Marine Drive Golf Club in Vancouver, shot a six-under par 66 Thursday and carries a four-shot lead into Friday’s final round of this year’s B.C. Junior Boys Championship at Kamloops Golf & Country Club. He is 12-under par through 54 holes.
So what has changed? “My game has gotten better,” the soft-spoken Bai deadpanned after his round. “More consistent. I have been practising almost very day. Last year I was missing the ball right and left. This year I haven’t been missing it anywhere.”
Bai spent the past school year in Sarasota, Florida at a golf academy where he completed Grade 10 and played more than a little bit of golf. Apparently, he’s a great student. “I played golf and went to school,” he said. “It helped my game a lot. I was playing with some pretty good competition down there.”
Bai took control of the tournament with a brilliant front-nine, which he played in five-under par. “I just hit all the fairways and greens and my putter was really hot today,” he said. “I made some six- and seven-footers as well as a couple 20- and 30-footers.”
Ilirian Zalli, another 16-year-old from Vancouver, sits second after shooting a one-under par 71 that left him at eight-under par through three rounds. That 71 was a good score considering the way Zalli’s round started. While Bai was reeling off birdies on the front side, Zalli’s round started with a double-bogey on the first hole and a bogey on his third. “I definitely had a rough start, three-over through three, so it was good to get it back to one-under par,” Zalli said. “I kept myself in the tournament.”
It is a tournament Zalli almost won last year. The Richmond Country Club member tied for second last year in Squamish, finishing second to his big brother Christian. Zalli knows what it is like to play with a lead at the B.C. Junior and knows this will be a new experience for Bai. He hopes that will be an advantage for him in Friday’s final round.
“It definitely wasn’t easy,” Zalli said of his final-round experience at last year’s B.C. Junior. “All I had to do last year to win was shoot something like 70 and I didn’t do it. I think all I have to do tomorrow is shoot something in the high 60s and I think that should be good. We’re going to see.”
Zalli took some comfort in the fact that he is three shots clear of the four players who are tied for third at five-under par. “I am four back, but three clear of the rest so I think it’s just us two tomorrow,” he said. “I totally didn’t expect him (Bai) to play this well, but good for him. I know what I have to do. I will be playing with him and four shots, to me, doesn’t feel too much. I know I can pick that up in a 9, let alone 18.”
North Vancouver’s Zach Ryujin, Joel Veenstra of Smithers, Khan Lee of Langley and Michael Crisologo of Richmond share third place at five-under. Crisologo and Ryujin, both Marine Drive members, shot even-par 72s, while Veenstra shot a 73 and Khan carded a 74.
Click HERE for complete scoring from the B.C. Junior Boys Championship.
CHIP SHOTS: The top three players after Friday’s final round will represent B.C. at the Canadian Junior Boys Championship, which goes July 30-Aug. 2 in Medicine Hat, Alta. . .The final group tees off at 10 a.m. Friday.