Team Canada (Golf Canada Photo)
The most successful season in Canadian golf history added another exciting chapter on Saturday as Team Canada won its first-ever team title at the World Junior Girls Golf Championship.
The Canada 1 Team comprised 14-year-old Anna Huang of Vancouver, who shot rounds of 71-69-70-70, 17-year-old Vanessa Borovilos of Toronto, who shot rounds of 70-73-73-75, and 17-year-old Vanessa Zhang of Vancouver, who shot rounds of 72-75-80-68 shot a team-total 138 under cool and blustery conditions at Brampton Golf Club in Brampton, Ont. to finish at 4-under 564 for the championship, a single shot clear of the Republic of Korea.
Canada 1, who began the day with a share of the third-round lead alongside Korea and the United States, needed a late-round charge to overtake Korea, who held a one-shot team lead through 16 holes.
The tournament shifted on the par-5 No. 17 when Huang made a birdie for Canada and Korea’s Soomin Oh made a bogey. Zhang then stepped up with a birdie on the par-4 18th, followed by Huang rolling in a par-putt to secure Canada’s first-ever team gold medal at the prestigious international junior championship.
Team Canada 1 Coach Jeff MacDonald of Chester, N.S., was proud of how his team battled all week, going head-to-head with powerhouse challengers from Korea and the United States to earn the prestigious title – of world champions.
“It feels really amazing; the girls have worked so hard, they all contributed so much today, it was really close all day, and they dealt with the stress really, really well,” said MacDonald, who was especially proud of the team’s resolve and self-belief that they could win.
“Anna made a huge birdie on No. 17 while Vanessa was rolling in an incredible 30-footer on 18. We always knew it was a good company to be in; they (Korea and the USA) weren’t going to back down. The Koreans made a lot of putts today, they were exceptional, and our Canadians really stepped up to the occasion. They never felt like they couldn’t win this golf tournament. The whole time they knew they belonged, and they knew they could compete with those countries. They were competing, they wanted to win, and they knew they could win the whole time.”
“I think me and Vanessa (Zhang) did a great job on the last four holes; we both made two birdies, so that was a really great comeback for us, I’m just really proud of how we all did as a team, its not just individual scores, it's all about the team effort,” said Huang.
Canada’s previous best team finish at the World Junior Girls Golf Championship was a bronze medal in 2014.
“I don’t think we all had super high expectations going into this event, we just set out to do our best every single day, and it was nice that we saw ourselves on the leaderboard, it more just came down to keeping our practice routines the same and trying our best each and every shot,” said Zhang.
“It’s such a cool experience, I said this earlier this week, you’re playing for something bigger than yourself, you’re playing for a team, and to do this together, feels pretty cool,” added Borovilos.
The two-time past winners from Korea would finish with the silver medal, shooting a team total of 3-under, followed by the Czech Republic earning bronze at 4-over. Rounding out the top five were Sweden at 5-over 573, and Mexico at 8-over 576.
The Team Canada 2 squad of 14-year-old Miranda Lu of Vancouver, 16-year-old Luna Lu of Burnaby, B.C., and 14-year-old Eileen Park of Red Deer, Alta. finished 18th.
In the individual competition, third-round leader Denisa Vodickova of the Czech Republic followed up yesterday’s scorching 5-under 66 with a final-round even-par 71 to win the Czech Republic’s first-ever individual medal in the eight-year history of the championship. An adjustment a month ago to her putting grip brought a great sense of confidence into the championship, finishing 7-under 277 for the tournament.
“It’s amazing, I feel great. I was very nervous today, I messed up the 17th hole a little bit and wasn’t sure I was still leading but was very glad about the finish,” said Vodickova, who plans to play college golf at Wake Forest next year. “My putting was really good, I’m putting cross-handed now, I changed a month ago, and it’s working really well.”
With the victory, the 18-year-old earns an exemption into the 2024 CPKC Women’s Open next July at the Earl Grey Golf Club in Calgary, Alta.
Canadian Anna Huang capped off a tournament to remember, earning runner-up honors in the individual competition in addition to helping Canada win its first-ever team title. Huang, who finished T11 in 2022, shot a final-round 1-under 70 to finish at 4-under 280 for the championship, three shots back.
The runner-up finish for Huang was the best by a Canadian in the individual competition since Brooke Henderson’s fourth-place finish in 2014.
Soomin Oh of Korea finished third at 3-under, while Savanah de Bock of Belgium at 1-under and Nora Sundberg of Sweeden at 2-over rounded out the top-five.View results for World Junior Girls