Lauren Kim strikes the ball at the Ford Series IMG Academy Junior Worlds Qualifier Sunday afternoon at Morgan Creek. Tournament play began Saturday and wrapped up Sunday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Surrey golfers top podium at Junior Worlds Qualifier at Morgan Creek

Lauren Kim, Justin Bjornson win divisions and Maple Leaf Golf Tour-hosted event

Young Surrey golfers posted low scores on their home soil on the weekend, at the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour’s Ford Series IMG Academy Junior Worlds Qualifier, which was held at Morgan Creek Golf Course.

The tournament offered titles in seven age divisions as well as qualifying spots into a handful of big events set for later this year, including the IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego, July 8-12; FCG Callaway World Championship in Palm Desert, Calif., July 15-17, and spots on Team BC in the Junior Americas Cup – set for Edmonton in July – were also up for grabs.

Among the highlights of the two-day tournament – which ran Saturday and Sunday at Morgan Creek Golf Course – was Surrey’s Lauren Kim who, despite being just 13 years old, finished atop the leaderboard in the 15-18 year-old girls division, carding a two-round score of 146. Playing on the 5,326-yard, par-73 layout, Kim shot an opening round of one-under par 72, and finished Sunday with a 74.

Kim – who in November last year won the Maple Leaf Tour’s national title in the 15-18 year-old age bracket – edged second-place finishers Tiffany Kong of Vancouver and Emma Yang, of Langley, by two strokes. Kong shot a six-over-par 79 on Day 1 of the tournament, but stormed back into contention Sunday with a scorching round of 69. Yang shot a 75 on Saturday and wrapped up with an even-par 73 Sunday.

“I feel really proud of myself for beating players older than I am,” said Kim, an Earl Marriott Secondary student.

With the win, she remains atop the MJT’s Order of Merit standings, with 510 points.

Cloverdale golfer Justin Bjornson, 13, was also victorious on the weekend, winning the bantam boys division. Playing on 6,041-yard, par-72 layout, the teen shot an opening round of 81 before rebounding with a 75 on Sunday. His two-round total of 156 was two better than Victoria’s Kangbin Park, who finished at 158. The two golfers were tied after the first round – both sitting at fifth overall – but Bjornson’s 75 on Sunday was the best round of the day by any golfer in the division, and allowed him to pull ahead.

“The rain and wind made the golf course very tough on the first day. It felt good to bounce back and win,” Bjornson said.

Langley’s Caleb Davies was third, one shot back of Park, while Surrey’s Jason Sang finished in a tie for sixth, with a two-round score of 166 (80, 86).

Like Kim, Bjornson’s victory also keeps him atop the bantam boys Order of Merit standings – and with plenty of breathing room. The teen had amassed 600 points thus far due to his top finishes; the second-place golfer on the list has just 300.

In the juvenile boys competition (15-16 years old), Bailey Bjornson found himself on the podium, in a first-place tie.

The older brother of Justin scored a two-round total of 158 on the 6,644-yard, par-72 course, which tied him with Vancouver’s Song Bai for the longest total score of the weekend, but Bai won the tournament after two playoff holes. Bjornson was in the lead after shooting an opening-round 76 – which placed him two shots ahead of Bai – but the Vancouver teen got the upper hand Sunday, carding an 80 compared to Bjornson’s 82.

Delta’s Adrian Murray finished in a three-way tie for third place, two shots off the pace, while Surrey golfers Jordan Reyes and Maxwell George Beck were sixth and eighth, respectively.

In the event’s peewee boys tournament (10-12 year olds) – a par 72, 5,326-yard layout – the top Surrey golfers were Harvey Liu and Tristan Jackman, who placed seventh and eighth, respectively, while Andy Liu was was 13th. The top golfer in the field was Burnaby’s Jay Xu.

Surrey’s Bonnie Zhai was the top local finisher in the under-15 girls tournament, which featured 21 golfers. Zhai was fifth after a two-round score of 153 (83, 70) on the par 73, 5,326-yard course. White Rock’s Zara Jaswal was 16th, with a two-round score of 189.

In the junior boys division (17-18), Seunghyeon Noh was the only Surrey golfer in the field of eight, finishing seventh on the par 72, 6,644 course. He shot an opening round 94 before firing an 84 Sunday.

In the two-person collegiate division, Ryan Austin of Surrey was second to Richmond’s Fritz Lo by 10 strokes.

The weekend event also included a free golf clinic for youngsters interested in learning the game.


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