A 16-year-old amateur from Coquitlam, B.C., won a professional golf tournament on Wednesday, topping the field at the first event of the CN Canadian Women’s Tour season.
Jisoo Keel, a member of Canada’s national amateur team, made birdies on the final two holes at Richmond Country Club in Richmond, B.C., to capture the biggest victory of her budding career.
Shooting even-par 72 Wednesday and finishing the 36-hole event at one-under 143, Keel was the only women in the field of 89 to break par.
Amateurs have now won five Canadian Women’s Tour events in the past 10 years.
While Keel couldn’t accept the first prize of $10,000 because of her amateur status, she gets to keep the tournament’s other big perk: a berth in the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open, which coincidentally will be played at her home course in her hometown in August.
“It’s just 10 minutes from my high school,” Keel said of the Women’s Open venue, the Vancouver Golf Club. “I am so happy to be able to play. I am so honoured to play in my hometown in front of friends and family.”
Keel previously won a CN Future Links event for juniors and was a runner-up last year at the Canadian Junior championship. She’s done well among professionals before, too. Keel was the tour’s top amateur last year after placing third at the same Richmond tournament and eighth at its stop in Quebec. She also made the cut at the Canadian Women’s Open, which is part of the LPGA Tour and features the best female players in the world.
Se Yeon Park, a 19-year-old from Vancouver, and Renee Skidmore of the United States finished one shot behind Keel at even par, tied for second place. They split the first and second prize money, pocketing $8,498.18 apiece.
Two of the three players who shared fourth spot were also Canadian amateurs: Augusta James of Bath, Ont., and Nicole Zhang of Calgary. Along with American Joy Trotter, they concluded two days of play at one over.
Like Keel, 19-year-old James is a member of the national amateur team.
Fourteen-year-old Brooke Henderson of Smith Falls, Ont., was among a group of four players who tied for seventh spot at two over. She’s on the national team’s development squad, the youngest player in history to be part of the program.
The mini-tour has two more stops this season: in Beloeil, Que., and Niagara Falls, Ont., in June.