Burnaby’s Luna Lu Delivers Personal Best To Win U.S. Junior Girls Qualifier

 Nanaimo’s Manpreet Lalh And Jason Yu Of Vancouver Earn Spots In U.S. Junior Amateur

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Luna Lu fired her career-low competitive round and that meant everyone else was playing for second place at a U.S. Junior Girls qualifier at Riverway Golf Course in Burnaby.

Lu, a former B.C. Junior Girls champion, shot a bogey-free six-under 66 to win the qualifier by five shots and earn a spot in the U.S. Junior Girls Championship, which goes July 15-20 at El Caballero Golf Club in Tarzana, Calif.

“My putting was really solid throughout the day and my driver was very consistent,” Lu said. Consistent and long. Lu was belting her drives between 260 and 270 yards at Riverway.

That helped her attack the par 5s. She birdied three of them and eagled the other. That eagle came on the fifth hole. “I holed it from the bunker on No. 5,” said Lu, who is a member of Golf Canada’s national junior team.
Lu was especially pleased that her round was bogey-free. “That doesn’t happen often,” she said. “Maybe once every 20 or 30 rounds.”

Lu felt right at home at Riverway as her Burnaby North high school team plays its matches there. She is just finishing Grade 11 and her college plans are all set. After being highly recruited, Lu chose to commit to Princeton University in New Jersey and will join the Ivy League school in the fall of 2025.

“I’m very excited about that,” she said. “They have a very nice team and I really like the coach. The campus is nice and the golf course is only like a five-minute walk.” Lu will head to the U.S. Junior Girls Championship looking for a little redemption. She also qualified for the event last year, but missed the cut.

Twenty-three girls teed it up at Riverway and they were chasing two spots into the U.S. Junior Girls. The second qualifier was Saeyi Kim of San Jose, Calif., who fired a one-under 71. Burnaby's Katherine Hao shot an even-par 72 and is the first alternate.

British Columbians wanting to qualify for United States Golf Association championships usually have to travel south to tee it up at qualifiers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. That’s starting to change as the USGA begins to hold more qualifiers on this side of the border. This past April, a qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open was held at Vancouver Golf Club.

This week’s Riverway event was a joint U.S. Junior Girls and U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier. And while Lu only had a 15-minute drive from her home to the course, the boy’s winner at Riverway had a much longer trip.

Brooks Harper came all the way from Texas to tee it up at Riverway. That long trip paid dividends as the 16-year-old from Dallas topped the 63-player field with a four-under 68. Harper said another tournament he played in recently conflicted with the U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier in the Dallas area.

“I tried to sign up for another qualifier, but this was the only one left, so here we are,” he said with a smile. “This is my first time to Canada. It’s really pretty here.” It was a short visit. Harper and his mom were scheduled to take a red-eye flight back to Dallas a few hours after his round. ”It was a solid round,” Harper said. “I wasn’t hitting my irons that well, I didn’t have my best stuff, but I got the ball in the hole. I made a few putts at the end.

“This feels awesome. I have really wanted to play in the U.S. Junior for a long time. I am excited to have the chance and see how far I can go.”

Three spots were available at Riverway, which is in excellent condition and earned considerable praise from the players. The final two spots went to Manpreet Lalh of Nanaimo and Jason Yu of Vancouver. Both fired three-under 69s.
Lahl, 17, is heading into Grade 12 at Dover Bay Secondary. “I was hitting it pretty well,” Lalh said. “I had a lot of looks and fortunately a couple dropped for me. I’m not complaining, that’s for sure.”

Lalh is excited about heading to his first USGA championship. “Some of my good friends have played in the Junior Am and they say it is a crazy experience,” Lalh said. “I have heard they treat you pretty well.” Yu, a 13-year-old who is just finishing Grade 8 at St. George’s School, was making his first attempt to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur.

“I made a couple of big putts and got lucky in a couple of places,” Yu said. “This is a great experience just to qualify and play with so many great players.” Finley Dober of Kelowna beat Joshua Ince of Surrey in a playoff to earn first-alternate status. Both players shot even-par 72s.

The U.S. Junior Amateur is being played July 22-27 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Click HERE for complete final scoring.