SURREY, BC, CANADA (Aug. 5, 2011) — If there was any question about how Kevin Kwon would handle a big lead, he answered it early.
He simply built on it. What began as an eight-shot cushion at the Canadian Junior Boys Championship at Morgan Creek in Surrey grew to as many as 13 shots in Friday's final round.
Kwon eventually settled for an 11-shot win that matched a tournament record for margin of victory set by Vancouver's Brent Franklin in 1984 and equalled in 2006 by Abbotsford's Nick Taylor.
When it was over, the soft-spoken 16-year-old from Pitt Meadows couldn't quite believe what he had done.
"I have won by big margins, but not in this kind of tournament," Kwon said. "This is the highlight of my career so far."
The emphasis of that last sentence should be on the words "so far." This is a player who clearly has a bright future and is only heading into Grade 11 at Maple Ridge secondary.
"Kevin has been developing for the last couple of years and he's got the ability to go low," said Kris Jonasson, executive director of British Columbia Golf. "What he got this week was a little bit of confidence in himself. The one great round (a seven-under 65 on Wednesday) just seemed to give him the confidence to keep going.
"What I liked about he did today is how he handled a big day. He had to go out and play exactly the same way and he's done that."
Kwon was a double-winner Friday as he also captured the 16-and-under Canadian juvenile title.
He fired a tidy, three-under 69 Friday that left him at 16-under par, 11 shots clear of runner-up and last year's champion Richard Jung of Toronto. Surrey's Adam Svensson finished alone in third at four-under par.
Big leads aren't always the easiest to play with, but Kwon handled it remarkably well. He got off to another good start by birdieing the par-5 second hole and then chipping in for birdie on the par-3 third.
"Yeah, that one I was just trying to get close and it happened to go in," Kwon said of his chip-in. "I just got kind of a lucky break. I put it close on two and made birdie. I got off to a good start."
Before he was done the front nine, Kwon's lead had swelled to as many as 13 shots. If this had been a Little League baseball game, the mercy rule would have been in effect.
Kwon, who plays out of Swan-e-set Bay in Pitt Meadows, was happy with the way he managed to hold it together on Friday. His only hiccups came when he bogeyed the par-5 13th hole and the tough par-4 15th.
"I just stuck it out," he said. "I didn't post a high number, I kept within myself. I didn't hit it perfect and I didn't putt it perfect either, but I made the best of what I had."
Kwon came to Morgan Creek this week thinking he had a chance to win and wanting to finally seal the deal in a big tournament. He had registered a pair of runner-up finishes this year at the B.C. Junior Championship in Trail and at the season-opening CN Future Links Pacific Championship at Arbutus Ridge on Vancouver Island.
"I wanted to win, that was the thing," he said. "After the first two days I knew I had a chance. If I played the way I can play, I knew I could do it.
"This means a lot, it means I can compete with the best in the country and it has really boosted my confidence. I am very happy."
Wayne Vollmer, the former PGA Tour regular who is Morgan Creek's longtime director of golf, was mightily impressed with Kwon's play on the challenging layout.
"Kevin has played absolutely magnificently," Vollmer said. "I watched him play a few holes and he just played golf like it should be played, down the fairway, onto the green, made some good putts, great chips. He just played so solidly, so soundly for 72 holes and to win by 11 shots at 16-under par is absolutely incredible."
Svensson, who beat Kwon to claim the B.C. Junior title last month, bogeyed two of his last three holes to close with a one-under 71.
"I hit it much better today, drained a few putts and got it to six-under for the tournament, but then went bogey-par-bogey to finish," Svensson said. "Kevin is playing great right now and I am proud of him."
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