Ko in elite B.C. Amateur field

Naomi Ko of North Carolina State Wolfpack is in the B.C. Amateur Women’s Golf Championships in Vernon

Naomi Ko

Naomi Ko of Victoria is in Year 2 with the national amateur golf team and posted a fabulous sophomore season with the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

The 19-year-old, originally from ShunDe GuangDong, China, placed third in the 2017 Women’s Porter Cup two weeks ago in Lewiston, N.Y. The Porter Cup is considered one of golf’s biggest amateur tournaments.

Ko, who is studying sport management, is a rising star and is expected to go low in the B.C. Amateur Women’s Golf Championship at the Vernon Golf &Country Club.

The field of 48 get in a practice round Monday and start stroke play Tuesday morning. The 72-hole tourney ends Friday.

Ko, who plays out of the Royal Colwood Golf Club in Victoria, is a Claremont high school grad who competed for Canada in the 2016 World Amateur Championship in Mexico, finishing tied for sixth. She won the Lady Puerto Rico Invitational with a 1-under 215 and held a 74.53 stroke average for the NCAA season, competing in all 10 rounds.

Ko, who won the B.C. Junior Girls Championship title in 2014, spent four years on Canada’s Development Squad.

Mary Parsons, 17, of Delta, is on the national development team and is also entered in the B.C. Amateur. Parsons was runner-up last year to Stanford University’s Jisoo Keel of Coquitlam, not in the field this year.

Players begin tee times Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. with the field being trimmed to the low 28 and ties after Round 2.

Said Amateur director Susan White: “I’m really excited about this field. There are some incredibly strong players – all of Team Canada, most of the Developmental Squad, other top Canadians and also a gal from the Hong Kong Golf Team.”

Emery Bardock of Armstrong, who plays at Spallumcheen Golf &CC, and Kelowna youngsters Jessica Claggett and Tiegan Taylor, are also entered.

Meanwhile, Karen Pultz, a Surrey resident, won the B.C. Senior Women’s title by defeating defending champion Holly Horwood of Vancouver on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff on a Sunshine Coast Golf Course that played exceedingly difficult.

After beginning the day tied for the lead with five-time champion Jackie Little, Pultz found herself three down to Little at the turn.

But when Little, formerly of Vernon and now of Balfour, stumbled on the back nine, Pultz grabbed a two-shot lead late in her round. However, a double-bogey on 18 dropped her into a tie with Horwood, who came from well back when she matched the day’s best score with a six-over 78.

Pultz won it on the first playoff hole when she got it up and down for par and Horwood three-putted for bogey. Both players finished the 54-hole event at 25-over par. That was 13 strokes higher than Horwood’s winning score last year at Kelowna Golf &Country Club.

Pultz said Sunshine Coast (in Roberts Creek) presented as stiff a test as she has encountered in her competitive career.

“It was demanding off the tee, on top of that it is a second-shot golf course, and when you do get to the green you have to negotiate the slopes and where the ocean is and the influences that has,” Pultz told B.C. Golf.

“Patience was a virtue. I have never experienced the challenges of tees and into the greens and onto the greens. Usually you will get one of those three, but every single hole was demanding in every aspect of it. So when I took a couple of bogeys I was like, you know what, other people are going to get them, too. Keep your head down and golf your ball.”

Little, one of B.C.’s most decorated amateur golfers, closed with an 84. A 44 on the back nine proved to be her undoing. She finished alone in third place, one shot behind Pultz and Horwood.

Those three players will represent B.C. at the Canadian Senior Women’s Championship, Aug. 22-24, at Humber Valley Resort in Little Rapids, Nfld.