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Local golfers star at MJT stop

Walker ties for fourth, Hill takes sixth

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A pair of local golfers picked up their clubs to head to Whistler Golf Club for the MJT Whistler Junior Championship on Aug. 28 and 29.

Competing in the peewee boys division, Stewart Walker, 12, lipped his ball on the 18th hole to wrap his second day, and ended up settling for a share of fourth instead of tying for third with a two-round score of 160 (79 and 81). Vernon's Ryan Vest took the win with a score of 144. Burnaby's Jay Xu was second and Vernon's Will Lockwood took third.

"I got quite a few unlucky bounces but some good ones as well. I had a couple of not-so-great putts and some good ones," said Walker, adding that he appreciated the way Whistler Golf Club was set up, with much to challenge him over the tournament's two days.

"I really like the layout of the course. There are some challenging holes and some easier holes but I really like the course and it's in good condition right now," he said.

Walker recently enjoyed his first hole-in-one, using a three-wood to sink one on the 17th hole at his home club of Nicklaus North. Walker said his view of the hole was blocked by a hill, but some others up ahead let him know he had accomplished the feat.

"The group on the next tee shouted over that it was in, so it was a bit unexpected," he said. "It's a really unpredictable, tricky green so I had no clue (if it was in)."

Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Hill, also of Nicklaus North, shot 175 (91 and 84) in the 15-to-18 girls' division to take sixth. Vancouver's Leah John shot a 150 to best Burnaby's Emily Xu by two strokes. West Vancouver's Laura Wong placed third.

Hill was thrilled with her much-improved performance in Tuesday's second round.

"The first day wasn't great but I managed to make a lot of putts and drives," she said. "Today I made some better putts to save the score. I could have done better, but that's OK, there's always next time."

The course is one that challenges the 15-year-old as it can be difficult to find one's way out of trouble after a bad shot.

"You have to be very accurate here and there's not much room for flaws," she said. "You have to be hitting fairways and greens."

The Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour added a collegiate division for older competitors set to attend school. On the men's side, Surrey's Marcus Brown, who is getting set for his junior year at Simon Fraser University, said the conditions in Whistler were cooperative with his approach.

"It was nice warm weather and there wasn't too much wind," he said. "I wasn't hitting all the fairways but I was hitting the greens and making some putts."

Brown, admittedly, found difficulties with the course as it limited his driver use — a major disadvantage for him. Still, his 146 bested Kelowna's Davide Kaiser by 18 strokes.

"I was only able to hit one driver a day here since it's so narrow and a shorter course as well," he said. "I had to tone it back a bit."

On the women's side, Sarah Lawrence of Duvall, Wash. shot a 147 to best Vancouver's Bethany Ma by 26 strokes.

"I made a lot of birdies on the first day, which helped," she said. "I tried to land a lot of my approach shots short and let it roll out."

In the other divisions, winners included Surrey's Coco Pei taking the U15 girls event with a 146, Richmond's Brycen Ko winning the bantam boys event with a tournament-low 139 and Kelowna's Cole Wilson winning the juvenile boys event with a 145.

Full results are available at www.maplejt.com.

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