Preview: World Junior Girls’ Golf Championship at Camelot

The approach to the 2nd hole, Camelot Golf & Country Club. Photo: Scott MacLeod

For the second year in a row and the third time, the National Capital Region of Canada will host the 2018 World Junior Girls’ Championship. Opening ceremonies begin on Monday, September 10 for the 5th playing of this World Championships, with play concluding on the 14th. The entire event is an initiative of Golf Ontario and Golf Canada.

Players from 18 different countries will arrive to compete in Ottawa at the Camelot Golf & Country Club. The 57 athletes on the three-player teams are among the best in the world, with ten players currently occupying a place in the top 100 of the official World Amateur Golf Rankings. 19 of the players have played in at least one World Junior Girls Championship prior to this.

Now a Class A rated tournament in those World Rankings, the event will not only see great competition, but also serves as a platform for player development at an international level.

“With our partners, we are proud to offer a world-class event for girls of this age group, where there are fewer opportunities for international competitions,” said tournament director Dan Hyatt. “These girls are some of the best juniors in the world and we are thrilled to host them in a tournament where they can continue their growth and development.”

The Competitors

Among the nations who will be competing will be: Canada (2 teams as host), Belgium, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the USA.

The tournament’s top-ranked player, Atthaya Thitikul (No. 11), will represent Thailand in their first World Junior Girls appearance. Thitikul has won five separate titles in 2018, including Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship and The Queen Sirikit Cup.

Italy looks to be the strongest team on paper, with all three of their members currently ranked inside the top 80 in the world. They are led by 2017 World Junior silver medalist Alessia Nobilio. They have yet to win a team medal in the five years of this championship but should be a threat to do so at Camelot.

No team has defended the title at the World Junior Girls’ Championship but Spain will be the one attempting to so this year. In 2017 they prevailed in a playoff at The Marshes Golf Club in Kanata, Ontario.

Team (s) Canada

Canada will be trying to win a medal for the first time since they captured a bronze at the first championship held at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ontario in 2014. Céleste Dao (Notre-Dame Ile Perrot, Que.), Ellie Szeryk (London, Ont.) and Tiffany Kong (Vancouver, B.C.) will form Canada One, while Emily Zhu (Richmond Hill, Ont.), Sarah Beqaj (Toronto, Ont.) and Lauren Kim (Surrey, B.C.) will make up Canada Two.

Playing on that team in 2014 for Canada was now 7-time LPGA winner Brooke Henderson, along with a current member of this year’s host club, Grace St-Germain.

Local Insight

St-Germain, now a 20-year-old Junior at the University of Arkansas and a member of the National Team Program, was a part of the media day for this year’s championship and shared some thoughts with Flagstick.com about what the best junior golfers in the world will face at the Thomas McBroom designed Camelot Golf Club.

The club has previously hosted the 2012 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship, a Canadian Women’s Tour event, the 2017 Canadian Junior Girls Championship, as well as final qualifying for the 2017 CP Women’s Open. It will be laid out a yardage of 6262 yards and play to a par 72 for this week’s tournament.

Grace St-Germain

“I think the second hole will be a challenge, depending where they put the tee box (it will play 338 yards) because the second shot gets you a bit with the creek and water in front of the green,” said St-Germain. “That’s a hole where the girls are really going to have to be cautious on.”

The massive elevated tee shot on the 550-yard 12th hole could also make or break the scoring for some teams, according to St-Germain. Even as one of the straightest drivers in the Canadian game it always has her attention.

“That one has a narrow landing area so they are going to have to be very careful with that tee shot and then play that hole as smart as they can.”

She also points to the final par five of the course, the 16th, as a key one in scoring. “You have to be willing to take on a narrow landing area if you want a chance to go for the green in two. Otherwise you need to lay up and be really precise with all your full shots.”

In general, the 2018 Quebec Women’s Amateur Champion lays out the skill set players will require to score well during the 72 holes of competition.

“You have to have a pretty good short game. The greens are not small but you can’t short side yourself on some holes. I also think tee shots are really important. Getting yourself in the right area off the tee for an easier second shot is key or you can put yourself in a pretty bad position. There are holes that can really come up and get you; where you can make big numbers.”

She adds, “Game plan is key. The back nine is slightly different from the front nine. You can’t just go along hitting the golf ball around the golf course. You have to know where you are going; where you want to hit it, where to land it and what holes you can try to take advantage of. The course is really challenging. It’s hilly; it has a lot of elevation changes that you really have to get a feel for. It’s a beautiful golf course as well. I know they’ll enjoy playing it.”

The Schedule

Opening ceremonies for the championship take place on Sept. 10, followed by the first round on Tuesday, September 11. The tournament’s closing ceremonies will immediately follow the conclusion of play on Friday, Sept. 14.

Admission to the competition is free. Additional information regarding the fifth annual World Junior Girls Championship can be found on the competition’s website at www.worldjuniorgirls.com