Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: Leah John set for pro debut on Epson Tour..and much more

Leah John Is Set For Her Pro Debut On The Epson Tour  

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

With a kinesiology degree in her back pocket and loads of great memories of her time at the University of Nevada, Vancouver’s Leah John begins a new chapter of her golfing life this week as she makes her first start as a professional.

“I am really excited,” says the two-time B.C. Women’s Amateur champion. “It’s kind of like the feeling you have before going to the best concert of your life.”

John will tee it up in the Epson Tour’s Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek, Mich. The 54-hole event goes June 7-9 and John knows it is a big step up from what she experienced during an impressive collegiate career at Nevada that included four individual wins.

“I am looking forward to the extra push that it gives me,” John says. “Anytime you level up, you are forced to rise up, so I am kind of looking forward to that challenge.”

The Epson Tour is the LPGA’s version of the PGA Tour’s Korn Ferry Tour. Epson Tour players can play their way on to the LPGA Tour and as a result, it is loaded with great young players from all over the world. John gained some exempt status on the Epson Tour by playing well at last summer’s LPGA Tour qualifying school as an amateur. She played her first Epson Tour event as an amateur last month in California just to get an idea of what she will be stepping into this week.

John missed the cut, but feels like she learned some lessons that will be a benefit to her as she begins her professional journey. “I played that Epson event a couple of weeks ago just to see what the lay of the land was like,” she says.

“I think that will help me out just giving me some ease about what to expect.. . .you really have to, more than ever, be in your own bubble and trust yourself. I found in that first event it was really easy to get distracted. I want to try and settle in quickly to everything. There’s a lot of stuff, pro-ams and players from all over the world, there’s really a lot to look at. You have to have tunnel vision.”

Course set-ups figure to be more challenging and longer than what she was accustomed to in college. Extra length should not be a problem as John hits the ball a long way. “Everything is very doable,” she says. “Not making the course harder than it needs to be is important. You can’t be intimidated by it.

“My distance will always be a strength for me. I think I have this sixth gear that I like to go into and I think it can pull me through difficult moments when the pressure is on. I enjoy being in that environment.”

John received her Nevada diploma in a May 18 ceremony attended by her family and some close friends. It capped off what she said was a wonderful time at the Reno school. “The graduation ceremony was honestly one of the most wonderful weeks of my life,” she says. “My family was down there, it was like a wedding. Your worlds start colliding when you see your family, your friends, your professors, all the people who have helped you along the way. It’s pretty cool.”

Since then there’s been lots of practice back home in Vancouver. “It’s been pedal to the metal,” she says. “It definitely becomes a lot easier to practice because this is my job now. So I have been practising a ton and seeing coaches and trying to get as ready as I can.”

The Battle Creek tourney is the first of four straight Epson Tour events John will play to begin her professional career. Battle Creek, by the way, is the headquarters of the Kellogg’s cereal company. John is clearly hoping she can begin her pro golf journey will some snap, crackle and pop.

OPEN AND SHUT: It wasn’t a great week for British Columbians at the RBC Canadian Open. Eight of them started the tournament at Hamilton Golf & Country Club, but Surrey’s Adam Svensson was the only British Columbian to work the weekend. Svensson ended up tying for 51st and made $22,591. Among the casualties was defending champion Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, who battled a balky putter and missed the cut by three shots. Taylor, Svensson and Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin, who missed the cut by two shots in Hamilton, are all in the field for this week’s Memorial tourney in Dublin, Ohio.

TITLE DEFENCE: Christina Spence Proteau of Port Alberni and Austin Krahn of Christina Lake will be back to defend their titles at this week’s second playing of the B.C. Indigenous Championship at University Golf Course in Vancouver. A field of 85 players are scheduled to compete in the tournament, which made its debut last year at NK’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course in Oliver. The 36-hole event runs June 4 and 5. Like NK’Mip, University Golf Course is owned by a First Nations band. The course was transferred to the Musqueam band by the provincial government in 2008.

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: Vancouver’s Yanling Elaine Liu has played her way into this summer’s U.S. Junior Girls Championship. Liu fired a three-under 69 at a qualifier held at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash., and shared medalist honours with Emma Wong of Bellevue, Wash. They claimed the only two spots available at the qualifier.

The U.S. Junior Girls Championship will be played July 15-20 at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif. Nanaimo’s Matthew Wilson emerged as second alternate following a U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier at Gold Mountain. Wilson fired an even-par 72 to finish one shot outside the top four who qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur, which goes July 22-27 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

BIG 12 HONOURS: Surrey’s Lauren Kim, who just completed her freshman year at the University of Texas, was a unanimous selection to the All-Big 12 Team. Kim had 15 sub-par rounds this past season and a team-best scoring average of 70.5. She was the individual medalist at the Jackson T. Stephens Cup last fall and tied for third at the Big 12 Championship.

BACK TO BACK: Langley’s James Allenby captured the Me-N-Ed’s Pizza Open at Golden Eagle Golf Club in Pitt Meadows for his second straight win on the Vancouver Golf Tour. Allenby fired rounds of 66 and 70 on Golden Eagle’s North Course and his eight-under total was four shots better than amateur Russell Howlett of Delta, Kevin Spooner of West Vancouver and Bryce Barker of Vernon. Allenby earned $2,500 for the win.

CHIP SHOTS: Tyson Turchanski of Calgary shot a final-round six-under 64 to come from behind and win the Marine Drive Amateur. Turchanski finished the 36-hole event at four-under par. That was three shots better than runner-up Jace Minni of Delta. . .New Zealand’s Amelia Garvey, one of two players who earned spots in the U.S. Women’s Open at a Vancouver Golf Club qualifier in mid-April, made the cut at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania and tied for 58th. American Madison Young, the other Vancouver Golf Club qualifier, missed the cut.