B.C. golfer blazes to junior boys' lead

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 6:40 AM ET

HUNTINGFORD -- The rest of the field in the Canadian junior boys' championship shouldn't be fooled by 17-year-old Nick Taylor's quiet and polite demeanour off the golf course.

On the course he's a different kid, his coach says.

"Nick's a quiet kid who absolutely loves golf," said Sean Anderson, who works with elite players from British Columbia for the Royal Canadian Golf Association. "But inside, he's got a very strong desire to do well."

The Abbotsford golfer, one of several outstanding players from British Columbia competing here this week, shot 66 yesterday at Oxford Golf and Country Club to take the first-round lead.

He leads Michael McKenzie of Cambridge and Eugene Wong of North Vancouver by two shots. Tied at 69 are Brad Larente of Cambridge and Jeff Shashuk of Coquitlam, B.C.

A group at 70 includes Matt Hill of Bright's Grove and Brad Revell of Kingston.

The 72-hole championship ends Thursday.

"I was hitting the ball in all the right spots," Taylor said, describing his five-under round. "(Today) I just want to focus on hitting fairways and greens. The course is awesome and in great shape."

The B.C. contingent includes Darren Wallace, 15, of Langley, who won last year's men's Canadian Amateur and played in the Bell Canadian Open. Rafael Lee, the defending junior champion from Burnaby, is a contender, although he shot 76.

Other top B.C. players include Richard Lee of Vancouver, who shot 74, Stashuk and Dong Su of Richmond, who carded a 70.

Anderson said he wouldn't be surprised if a B.C. player wins the championship again this year.

"I don't want to take anything away from the other provinces and their good players but we have a lot of depth," Anderson said. "These guys are used to seeing each other almost every week and going head-to-head. I think a lot of it (our success) comes from playing against each other in B.C. tournaments."

Four B.C. players are members of Canada's world junior team.

B.C. juniors have won five of the past seven Canadian juniors, including James Lepp in both 2001 and 2002. Lepp became the first Canadian to win the NCAA tournament this year.

Yesterday's first round was a good one for three of the four London and area players.

Hill said he was happy with his opening round, which has put him in contention. He three-putted the 17th green for a bogey.

Hill will leave immediately after the tourney for the Canadian Amateur in Nova Scotia, where he will join his older brother Graham, the Ontario Amateur champion.

"It's a good start," said Hill, who won the Tyson Tour junior tournament here last Friday, shooting a 70. "It's good for my confidence."

Craig Campbell of St. Thomas shot a one-over-par 72, and was delighted. His goal is to make the three-round cut on Wednesday. Ben Whelan of Ingersoll also recorded a 72. Woodstock's Taylor Micacchi shot 83.

Only two players from Southwestern Ontario have won the Canadian junior -- both from London. Ian Thomas of the Hunt Club won in 1965 in Brantford and Kelly Roberts, then playing out of Sunningdale, won in 1971 at Edmonton. Roberts also won the men's Ontario Amateur in 1971.


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