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Coming home a provincial golf champion

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After managing a runner-up position – three strokes behind the winner – at a Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour tournament at the Selkirk Golf and Country Club late last month, Crystal Zamzow returned home to Swan River last week after securing an impressive and dramatic win at the same course for the Women’s Junior Championship, held July 12-14 for all Manitoba U19 female players.
The 14-year-old managed 30 strokes above par after 54 holes – 79-77-84 – for a total of 240, only two strokes better than Mikyla Albert, an 18 year old who secured the win at the last outing in Selkirk, albeit in a different competitive age bracket than Zamzow.
“I played very well the first two days, but the pressure definitely got to all three of us the last day as we all shot higher scores,” said Zamzow, referring to Albert and fellow competitor Cala Korman – who finished third a mere three strokes behind Zamzow – who are good friends with Zamzow from many past encounters competitively and as Team Manitoba teammates.
“I was just happy to be competing the first two rounds and didn’t feel too much pressure to play well I was just playing how I knew I could. The third day was an emotional roller coaster for all of us, especially on the back nine as we all struggled knowing how close we were to a provincial win.”
Out of a pool of seven direct competitors, Zamzow, Albert and Korman were in a three-way tie for first with three holes remaining. Zamzow managed the win with three straight pars in the end, with only two birdies in the entire tournament compared to Albert’s four and Korman’s three.
Zamzow added that the conditions during the three days had some challenges at times, with the first day being nice, but the second day plagued with two thunderstorm delays and playing part of the round in the rain, followed by a windy third day that made it difficult to keep the ball on target.
“Winning the Manitoba U19 Girls Championship is a thrill I won’t forget,” she said. “Having the lead at the end of all three days was nice, as it was so close all the way over 54 holes.
“My mom followed as a spectator all three days, but only one spectator per family was allowed due to COVID-19 rules. When I finished and realized I had won, I was told my dad was behind the 18th green. He surprised us and drove from home to watch me play the last hole from behind the tree. It was awesome to be able to celebrate with my mom and dad.
“It’s definitely a bit of a dream come true,” Zamzow continued. “I knew that it was going to be tight between the three of us this year, but it’s still so crazy to think I actually won. Mikyla Albert and Cala Korman are both great friends and I enjoy competing with and against them. I think I had only beaten Mikyla once before and Cala and I are close to 50/50 in tournaments. I guess it was my turn this time.”
In a normal year, Zamzow, Albert and Korman, would be representing Manitoba at the Canadian Juniors in Quebec City from July 28-31, but with the COVID-19 restrictions, the event has been cancelled.
Prior to the Women’s Junior Championship, Zamzow also played an even stiffer competition at the Women’s Amateur Championship – held July 6-8 – open to amateur female competitors of all ages in Manitoba. Zamzow managed a respectable 10th place among 19 finishers, scoring 30 above par compared to Veronica Vetesnik’s nine above par after 54 holes at the Bel Acres Golf and Country Club in Winnipeg.
“Playing against the best and most experienced adults is a little intimidating at first,” said Zamzow. “I had never played the Bel Acres course before the tournament, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was happy with how I played the first day and extremely happy with my performance the second day. The third day, I definitely had some bad breaks and things didn’t go so well, which cost me a few spots on the leaderboard.
“Overall, it was a great experience and the adult and university golfers I played with were all really encouraging and nice to me.”
Zamzow showed special appreciation to her coaches, her mom Marni Zamzow, and Swan River Golf and Country Club Professional Clinton Weir.
“My mom is with me on the golf course or driving range every time I ask – usually five to seven days a week – and when my ball striking isn’t quite right, Mr. Weir makes time for me to provide small adjustments like he did the day before I left for the Juniors in Selkirk.”
Zamzow will be back in action next week when she rejoins the next Maple Leaf Junior Tour event at the St. Boniface Golf Club from July 27-28.

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Jeremy Bergen
REPORTER
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