BC's Tiffany Kong Top Canadian At Halfway Mark Of Canadian Women's Amateur

Vancouver's 17-Year Old Tiffany Kong Is The Top Canadian At The Halfway Mark Of The Canadian Women's Amateur Being Held At Marine Drive GC - BC Golf Image

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

This was supposed to be nothing more than a week of practice for Tiffany Kong, who instead finds herself in the thick of the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship at Marine Drive Golf Club.  The 17-year-old Vancouver resident came to Marine Drive hoping to prepare for next week’s Canadian Junior Girls Championship at Beach Grove Golf Club in Tsawwassen.

But thanks to a hot putter and some solid ball-striking, Kong has rattled off 11 birdies through two rounds of the Women’s Amateur and is just two shots out of the lead.

“I didn’t really have any real expectations coming here,” Kong said with a chuckle after carding a three-under 68 that left her at five-under par at the halfway mark. “I was just here to help prepare myself for the Canadian Junior and to just see how I can do playing against some of the really good international players who are here.”

She seems to have her answer. Kong, who is alone in fourth place, has competed very well against a field that contains three of the top six amateur players in the world. Suddenly, this prestigious event has become much more than just practice for Kong.

She is now officially contending, but insists that won’t affect how she plays the final two rounds. “I won’t change anything,” she said. “I feel like my shots are solid, my putting is good and there’s nothing much I can work on. I just want to continue with how I am playing.”

Kong made six birdies in her round Wednesday, when she again rolled in lots of putts. “I hit it really well again today and I made a lot of putts,” she said. “And I made some hard putts that kind of made me go, ‘wow, my putting is good.’ “

And the rest of her game isn’t bad either. For the most part, Kong has driven the ball straight on a Marine Drive layout that demands accuracy off the tee. Kong had only played Marine Drive twice before Tuesday’s first round, so is still learning the nuances of the course. “I missed some fairways today,” she said. “That is where I got my bogeys. There are some holes out there that are really tough off the tee.”

Kong just completed Grade 11 at David Thompson Secondary and has been a solid player on the B.C. Junior Golf scene for the last few years. Three years ago, she surprised almost everyone -- including herself -- when she successfully Monday qualified to play in the LPGA Tour’s CP Women’s Open at Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam.

She now has a chance to make an encore appearance in that event. The winner this week and the low Canadian both earn exemptions into this summer’s CP Women’s Open, which goes Aug. 23-26 at Wascana Country Club in Regina. “I am going to go for it,” Kong said. “I would love to play again. It’s such an honour to play in a tournament like that.”

Kong has more than a nice golf game. She is an exceptionally bright young woman who has already been accepted into Princeton University, an Ivy League school in New Jersey where she will play collegiate golf and major in business. “I verbally committed in March,” she said. “That was my top choice. It is where I wanted to be and it fits my future goals. It is such a nice campus.”

The players Kong and everyone else in the field are chasing are Gina Kim of Chapel Hill, N.C., Dylan Kim of Sachse, Tex., and Yealimi Noh of Concord, Calif. All three stand at seven-under par.
“I have putted well,” Gina Kim said. “These greens, although they are tricky, I think I have been reading them well and have been pretty confident. The putts are falling and I am making some birdies.”

Kim, who will begin her collegiate career at Duke University this fall, laughed when she was told Vancouver is currently under a heat warning. “Really?” she said. “Oh, wow. At my home we can get up to 105 degrees with almost 100 per cent humidity. So this is heaven to me.”

First-round leader Jennifer Kupcho of Westminster, Colo., struggled to a four-over 75 Wednesday after blitzing Marine Drive with a course record seven-under 64 on Tuesday. She is tied for fifth at three-under par.

Kong’s play wasn’t the only good piece of British Columbia news on Wednesday. The B.C. team of Naomi Ko of Victoria, Mary Parsons of Delta and Christina Proteau of Port Alberni won the 36-hole inter-provincial competition that concluded after the second round. B.C. finished at eight-over par, five shots ahead of Ontario. “I was kind of curious during my round how we were doing,” Ko said as the B.C. team celebrated its win behind the 18th green. “But I kind of had a feeling. There was just a good vibe out there.”

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CHIP SHOTS: Surrey’s Hannah Lee is tied for 12th at one-under par. . .The 36-hole cut to the low 70 and ties fell at eight-over par. Among those who survived to play the final two rounds was 12-year-old Lauren Kim of Surrey, who shot a 77 Wednesday to finish 36 holes at eight-over.