Gusting winds tempered blistering heat at the Links at Penn Hills as Victoria’s Naomi Ko shot a final-round 72 to capture the 2016 Canadian Junior Girls Championship title in Shubenacadie, N.S.
Ko entered the final round in a tie for first at five under with Mary Parsons of Delta, B.C. and only one stroke ahead of Chloe Currie of Mississauga, Ont.
Back-to-back birdies on the second and third holes followed by a third on the fifth hole pushed the Team Canada National Squad member into an early eight under lead.
“I got off to a really good start on the front nine,” said Ko.
“The wind wasn’t really in effect, but as I got to the back nine, it really started picking up. I really had to adjust and learn from (Thursday’s) mistakes. I was striking the ball well and I think that was one of the key things today. Putting on the back nine was not so good, but it got the job done,” she said.
The North Carolina State University sophomore collected three bogeys through the final stretch to finish the tournament at five under.
Ko has come close to taking the national title in previous years, but fell short in 2014 with a fourth-place finish at Thornhill Golf and Country Club in Thornhill, Ont.
She was awarded second-runner up honours in 2015 when the event was hosted by Deer Park Golf Course in Yorkton, Sask.
This victory comes as a relief to Ko who was competing in her last Junior event before she becomes ineligible on the 18-and-under junior circuit.
“Knowing that it was my last Canadian junior, I really wanted to win it. I tried to keep myself grounded and play it one shot at a time,” she said.
“I was walking up the last couple of holes and I kind of felt sick. I felt a little bit nauseous and took a deep breath and took advantage on the 18th. I had a good approach shot and knew I just had to get it in or two-putt, so it was a little less pressure,” she said.
Ko also received an exemption into the 2017 Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship hosted at Cutten Fields in Guelph, Ont..
The final leaderboard is here.