Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: Leah John, Lauren Kim celebrate collegiate wins on same day; Hadwin solo second in Vegas; Northview owner Chick Stewart passes at age 95; Q-school in session for several B.C. players; Luna Lu commits to Princeton

Leah John Has Win No. 3 On Her College Resume At The University Of Nevada - Image Credit Bryan Outram/BC Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

For Lauren Kim, it was collegiate win No. 1 in what was just her third event. For Leah John, it was win No. 3 and it came just a week after win No. 2.

The two British Columbians, at very different points in their collegiate golf journeys, recorded their wins on the same day last week (Wednesday, Oct. 11). They both thought that was great.
“Canada is crushing it,” said John, who is in her final year at the University of Nevada.

“I immediately thought, 'we’re amazing,'” added Kim, a freshman at the University of Texas. “Two Canadians win on the same day. And Team Canada won at the World Junior Girls, too. That was pretty cool.”

Kim’s win came first when the 18-year-old Surrey native prevailed on the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff with Adela Cernousek of Texas A&M to win the Jackson T. Stephens Cup in Dallas.

Both players had finished the 54-hole stroke play portion of the event at 11-under par. The tournament was televised by Golf Channel and Kim drew accolades when she rolled in birdie putts on the17th and 18th holes to force the playoff.

That playoff had to be completed on the Wednesday morning after darkness fell. Kim, the reigning Canadian Women’s Amateur champion, missed a three-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole that would have won it. But she had an excuse. It was literally pitch-black at the time.

“I was obviously a little disappointed, but I headed into the next day with a little bit of anger and a little bit of a 'let’s just get it done, I deserve this and I’m just going to take the win' attitude,” Kim said. “That’s what I was thinking.”

Kim ended it quickly on the fourth extra hole when she made a great up and down for par. “It was only my third start and I’ve already gotten a win under my belt so that’s great,” Kim said. “I didn’t think this win would happen so quickly.

Surrey's Lauren Kim Picked Up Her First College Win On Just Her 3rd Try - Golf Canada File Photo

“I got a lot of calls and messages from people. That was definitely a nice feeling getting that support, especially from people I didn’t really know.” The only downer was that after Kim’s early-morning playoff win, she and her Texas teammates lost their match play final 3-2 to Wake Forest.

John’s win came at the Iconic Golf Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., where she recorded the second best 54-hole score in Nevada women’s golf program history. The two-time B.C. Women’s Amateur champion from Vancouver finished the tournament at 13-under par and won by three shots.

The win came eight days after John won the Pat Lesser Harbottle Invitational at Tacoma Country Club. She finished that tournament with a six-under 66 and opened the Albuquerque tourney with a seven-under 65 that matched the best score in the history of the Nevada program. “I am having a lot of fun and it’s cool meeting your goals,” John said in a telephone interview. “It just feels great.”

John, a kinesiology major at Nevada, credits her strong play this season with doing a better job of eliminating the big errors on the golf course and trusting her game. “I am staying true to how I like to play and just trusting myself,” she said.

“I am a long hitter and I like to be aggressive, so I am leaning into that more and more. And my wedge game has been one of my biggest priorities this summer. That has gained me some strokes.”

Kim and John are both leaving their respective college teams for a few days to compete in other events. John is heading this week to Stage 2 of the LPGA Tour qualifying school in Florida. She is hoping to qualify for final stage of Q-school, but has no intention of going if she does. Players must turn pro to compete at final stage and John is committed to finishing the year at Nevada.

She hopes she might be able to bank some Epson Tour status for next spring if she gets through Stage 2. Vancouver’s Tiffany Kong is also competing at Stage 2 this week. Kim, meanwhile, is heading to Abu Dhabi where she will represent Canada at the World Amateur Team Championships, which go Oct. 25-28.

SOLO SECOND: That second PGA TOUR win is proving to be elusive for Adam Hadwin. The Abbotsford native came close again at the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas, where he finished solo second, one shot behind winner Tom Kim. Hadwin was just one shot behind Kim when he dumped his six-iron second shot into the water on the short par 5 16th hole. He made a bogey and Kim had a two-shot lead with two holes to go.

“I was that one shot on 16 away from having a chance going up 18,” Hadwin said. “It was 193 (yards) front, 206 pin, and it really was honestly a perfect little cut six. . .I completely whiffed it, up and out of it, and unfortunately one of my worst swings of the day at the least opportune time.”

Hadwin, whose lone PGA TOUR win came back in 2017 at the Valspar Championship, did roll in a 25-foot putt for birdie on No. 18 to finish solo second at 19-under and earn $915,600. This was Hadwin’s second recent close call. Back in early July he lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.

There was lots of other Canadian content on the Vegas leaderboard. Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont. finished in a four-way tie for third and made $410,025. Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor tied for 13th at 16-under and made $154,980, while Adam Svensson of Surrey tied for 18th at 15-under and earned $111,300. Svensson and Taylor headed to the airport after their rounds. They are off to Japan for this week’s Zozo Championship.

STEWART PASSES: Donald (Chick) Stewart, the sawmill owner who hired Arnold Palmer to build his two courses at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey, died earlier this month at the age of 95. Stewart opened the Canal and Ridge courses at Northview in 1994. Two years later, the Ridge Course began a seven-year run as the site of the PGA TOUR’s Greater Vancouver Open which later became the Air Canada Championship.

Stewart and his wife Marilyn, who died in 2014, supported many charities and in 2007 they donated the land and capital costs to build the Czorny Alzheimer Centre Society in Cloverdale, which houses 72 residents. It was named in honour of Marilyn’s late father, who battled the disease. Stewart is survived by three daughters and many grandchildren. A celebration of life will be held 11 a.m. Oct. 28 at Christian Life Assembly, 21277 56th Ave. in Langley.

CLASS IN SESSION: The first stage of Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school is being played at 13 different sites with plenty of British Columbia content. Khan Lee of Chilliwack, A.J. Ewart of Coquitlam, Max Sear of Victoria, Chris Crisologo of Richmond, Jared du Toit of Kimberley and Jeevan Sihota of Victoria are teeing it up this week (Oct. 17-20), while Jake Lane of Charlie Lake, Lawren Rowe of Squamish and Ziggy Nathu of Richmond play their first stage the following week.

FEELING THE HEAT: Individual winner Emily Cornwall helped lead the UBC-Okanagan Heat to their win at the Western Washington University Invitational played at Bellingham Golf & Country Club. Cornwall, a third-year fine arts major from Calgary, won her second collegiate title with a two-round total of 143. UBC-Okanagan edged the host team by two shots to win the team championship. Simon Fraser University finished five shots back in third place. The Red Leafs were led by Dana Smith of Campbell River, who finished third overall in her collegiate debut.

IVY LEAGUE BOUND: Burnaby’s Luna Lu, the 2022 B.C. Junior Girls champion, has verbally committed to Princeton University. Lu, now in Grade 11 at Burnaby North High School, will join Princeton in the fall of 2025. The Princeton program has a solid B.C. connection. Vancouver’s Tiffany Kong graduated from Princeton this past spring and Vancouver’s Victoria Liu is currently the Tigers’ No. 1 player.

MATCH PLAY CHAMPS: The Chilliwack duo of Matt Gudmundson and Nigel Sinnott won the finals of the Vancouver Golf Tour’s JM Media B.C. Match Play championship. Gudmondson and Sinnott beat the team of Ilirian Zalli of Vancouver Neil MacLeod of Burnaby 2&1 in the final played at Vancouver Golf Club. Lawren Rowe of Squamish won the VGT’s Gatekeeper Systems Series Final at Meadow Gardens Golf Course in Pitt Meadows. Rowe fired a five-under 67 to edge James Allenby of Langley by a single shot. He earned $1,500 for the win.

REGIONAL ROUNDUP: Trevor Simkins of Bootleg Gap won the Kootenay Pro Tour Tour Champion, beating Nicklaus Kennedy of Granite Pointe in a playoff. . .Dylan Bell of Golf Town Victoria won the Vancouver Island Club Pro Tour Championship by one shot over Mark Valliere of Glacier Greens and Eric Wang of Victoria Academy of Golf. . .Lionel Taylor of Talking Rock, Austin Bosquet of Shuswap National and Lucas Rachkowski of Harvest Golf Club shared first place in the Tour Championship of the Westland Insurance Interior PGA Tour. . .The Lower Mainland’s G&G Tour Championship goes this week at Morgan Creek Golf Course and Vancouver Golf Club.