Zalli Shoots 69-69-69 Plus Other Impressive Scores from Successful MJT Season Opener at Swan-e-Set
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2019-03-20
PITT MEADOWS, British Columbia — The Boston Pizza-presented Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour (MJT) is off to a successful start to 2019 after a wait-listed field of 100 junior golfers were in action over the weekend in the World Amateur Golf and Golf Canada-ranked MJT Humber College PGM Classic presented by TaylorMade at Swan-e-Set Bay Resort in Pitt Meadows, BC, March 16 to 18.
Players were competing for titles in seven divisions plus for direct exemptions into the FCG International Championship in San Marcos, CA, July 1-5, the 2019 BC Golf Junior Boys Championship at Fairwinds Golf Club in Nanoose Bay, BC, July 2-5, as well as an exemption into the 66th annual International Junior Masters (IJM) in East Aurora, NY, June 24-28.
Both the BC Golf and IJM exemptions were awarded to 16-year-old standout, Ilirian Zalli of Burnaby, BC, after he fired three consecutive, brilliant rounds of 69 to win Low Overall and MJT Junior Boys Champion’s trophy, finishing the 54-hole event at nine under par (207). “It feels fantastic to play up a division and win. It’s been a long winter and it’s great to know that the hard work has paid off,” he said. There was a three-way tie for second place between Tony Li, 17, of Vancouver, BC, Michael Wu, 17, of Victoria, BC, and Jace Minni, 17, of Delta, BC, who all finished at three over par, 219, over the three days.
The MJT Juvenile Boys Champion was Thomas Huang, 15, of Clyde Hill, WA, who was playing in his first MJT event ever and finished at four over par after solid rounds of 72, 74, 74 (220). Huang, a resident of the Greater Seattle area, said, “I feel proud because it’s my first win this year. I was in Canada for the weekend and decided to play. I hope to come back and play more MJT events.” Runner-up was Riley Lai, 16, of Vancouver, who was two shots back after firing 76, 75, 71 (222).
An intense battle in the MJT Bantam Boys Division ended with Justin Bjornson storming back from three shots down to win the Hoselton Trophy by four strokes. Bjornson, 13, of Surrey, BC, made five birdies during the final round on his way to a three-under par, 69. “I was very excited (on the 18th hole) as I had played a great round of golf and was happy to be able to win such a prestigious event,” he said. His impressive third round was preceded by rounds of 73 and 78 for a total of 220. Four shots back in second place was Daniel Bennett, 13, of Victoria, who fired rounds of 74, 78, 72 (224).
Ryan Liang, 12, of Vancouver, was victorious as MJT Peewee Boys Champion with very impressive scores of 76, 73, 72 (221). “I birdied three out of the four par threes in the second round, which made me really happy,” said Liang. Ten shots back of Liang was 12 year old, Jay Xu, of Burnaby, BC, who finished with rounds of 75, 80, 76 (231).
Erin Lee, 13, of Langley, BC, bested a strong field of 24 for Low Overall Girls score, and won the MJT Girls U15 Hoselton trophy in her division of 16 players with outstanding scores of 73, 69, 72 (214). Lee said afterwards, “I love playing MJT events because they are very organized, the prizes are always great and I always have so much fun.” Runner-up seven strokes back in her division was Vanessa Zhang, 12, of Vancouver, who shot 72, 74, 75 (221).
MJT Girls 15-18 Champion was 17-year old Sonja Tang of Vancouver, after she edged victory by just one shot over Angela Arora, 14, of Surrey, BC, who was playing up a division. Tang carded rounds of 70, 71, 77 (218). “I’m really happy with how I played during the first two rounds, but the final round was a struggle,” she said. “I was able to pull through and get the win.”
The event’s Collegiate Division was won by MJT veteran, Davide Kaiser, 20, of Kelowna, BC, who shot 80, 82, 79 (241). “The best hole of my tournament was probably the 7th hole because I made birdie there two out of the three days,” he said, “it feels great to get the win and know hard work pays off.” Runner-up in the division was 19 year old, Ryan Austin, of Surrey.
For the PLYR Long Drive, PLYR Closest-to-the-Pin and the MJT Comeback Award winners, please visit the highlights page for the tournament. The FCG direct exemptions were awarded to Vanessa Zhang, Erin Lee, Jennifer Gu, Sonja Tang, Angela Zhang, Ryan Liang, Justin Bjornson, Thomas Huang and Ilirian Zalli.
The next Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour stop in British Columbia is the MJT Ford Series IMG Academy Junior Worlds Qualifier at Morgan Creek Golf Club in Surrey, April 13 and 14. The field is already three-quarters full; for more information or to register, please visit www.maplejt.com or call 1-877-859-4653.
About Humber College PGM Program
Humber College’s Business Administration - Professional Golf Management program is a Recognized PGA of Canada program. Gain a business education, develop your golf game, and embark on a career you will love. Gain valuable experience and earn income during our two 6-month paid co-op terms. Our on-campus Golf Lab is a world-class golf performance training facility run by PGA Professionals. Our Golf Lab is equipped with three Simulator Rooms, a Golf Retail Shop, Golf Club Workshop, and 2000 square feet of putting surface. Our students have the opportunity to play on the Humber Hawks varsity golf team, the most decorated golf team in Canada. For more information please visit our website at business.humber.ca/golf.
About TaylorMade Golf
Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, TaylorMade Golf is a leading manufacturer of high performance golf equipment with industry leading innovative products like M5/M6 metalwoods, M5/M6 irons and TP5/TP5X golf balls. TaylorMade is the #1 Driver in Golf and also a major force on the PGA TOUR with one of the strongest athlete portfolios in golf, which includes Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods. Click here for the website.
About the MJT
The non-profit Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour presented by Boston Pizza is Canada’s number one-played Junior Golf Tour as well as the only national junior tour run exclusively by PGA of Canada Professionals and the ‘Road to College Golf’ in Canada. The organization is presented nationally by Boston Pizza and supported by valued Premier, Tournament and Product Partners. The MJT hosts more than 70 events across Canada, including free Ford Go Golf Junior Clinics, the MJT Mini Tour for 7 to 12 year olds, the Collegiate Tour for 19 to 23 year olds, and multi-day events for competitive players aged 11 to 18 which are also qualifiers for international competitions. The program offers annual awards, scholarships, and frequent player incentives to help reward player's performance and participation throughout each season. MJT alumni include many Professional Tour players and PGA of Canada Professionals, as well as Canadian Amateur, National and Provincial Junior Champions. The MJT aims to develop champions, in golf and in life, promoting the game from grassroots through to provincial, national, university and professional level. For more information, see www.maplejt.com.