West Vancouver’s Jennifer Gu Grabs Early Lead At B.C. Women’s Amateur Championship

West Vancouver's Jennifer Gu Leads The BC Women's Amateur After Round One At Summerland GC - image credit Bryan Outram/BC Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

SUMMERLAND -- Summerland Golf Club is set up as a par 74 for this week’s 116th playing of the B.C. Women’s Amateur Championship, but Jennifer Gu tried not to pay attention to that number in Tuesday’s first round. 

The 18-year-old West Vancouver resident had a rather simple formula she tried to follow and it seemed to work wonderfully as recorded a three-under 71 to grab the early lead. “I did not look at the pars on any of the holes,” Gu said after her round.

“I just tried to get the ball in the hole as quick as possible because I know the par 5s are very gettable and if I maybe think of a hole as a par 5 I will play it a little different, which I don’t want to do. I just want to get the ball in the hole as fast as I can.”

The course has been set up with six par 5s and how players take advantage of those holes figures to go a long way in determining who the champion is come Friday. Gu book-ended her round with birdies on the first and 18th holes. She made three other birdies and had just two bogeys. Three of her five birdies came on par 5s.

Gu leads Tina Jiang of Richmond by two shots. Theirs were the only two sub-par rounds recorded on Tuesday. “On this course you try and keep the mistakes away and make bogey your worst score,” said Gu, who plays out of Seymour Golf & Country Club in North Vancouver and is a member of Canada’s national junior team.

“You can get in trouble off the tee, but I am hitting the ball very, very well off the tee. I played the Glencoe (Invitational) in Calgary last week and that course was tight, so that definitely helped me prepare for this week. I am just happy to be playing, I am happy that we are competing, I am happy that we are running tournaments right now, especially early in the season.”

Leah John of Vancouver, Madison Kapchinsky of Kelowna, Yeji Kwon of Port Coquitlam and Emma Sabbagh of Kelowna are tied for third after opening with even-par 74s. “There are lots of different turns on this course -- dogleg lefts, dogleg rights,” said John, who is heading into her third year at the University of Nevada. “Placement off the tee is key and the greens are really good. They are rolling true. But you have to be on the right side to give yourself an opportunity.”

Summerland has two very distinct nines. The front is flatter and more wide open. Things tighten up considerably on the back side. “The front nine is pretty gettable, although I did not get it today,” Gu said. “It is fairly wide open, but on the back nine you have to put your smarty-pants on. I’m not hitting many drivers off the tee on the back.”

“The back nine is a lot tighter,” added John, who plays out of Marine Drive Golf Club. “If you hit it off line you are going to be paying the price. But it is still gettable. The par 5s are gettable, but you have to be smart about it, too. You still have to get the ball in the hole. The pressure can sometimes feel like it’s off because it’s a par 5, but you almost want to pretend it’s a four because you want to get it.”

Gu, who tied for third at the Glencoe tourney last week, recently committed to play her college golf at Kent State University in Ohio. She received a congratulatory message from Taylor Kim, the 2014 B.C. Women’s Amateur champion, who graduated from Kent State in 2016. “I am very pumped, very excited,” Gu said. “It will be a great experience.”

Click HERE for tournament scoring. 

CHIP SHOTS -- A two-woman better-ball competition is also being contested this week. The team of Sydney Clement of Summerland and Akari Hayashi of Victoria lead at nine-under par. Tina Jiang of Richmond and Emma Sabbagh of Kelowna are two shots back in second place.