Kozlowski, Bailey tuning up for college golf

Natasha Kozlowski had been on a roll.

After two wins in two tries this season golfing on the Maple Leaf Junior Tour and a solid fourth-place result in the Prince George Golf and Curling Club's Junior Simon Fraser Open, the 17-year-old thought she could keep up her hot streak when she entered the four-round B.C. Junior Girls Championship last weekend in Nanoose Bay.

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But her putting game let her down and she had to settle for a 15th-place finish out of 33. Kozlowski started off with an opening-round 78, then went 84-84-84 for a 330 total (46 over par on the par-71 course). She ended up 32 strokes off the winning pace set by Angela Zhang of Vancouver.

"I'm struggling with my game right now, I can't get anything going," said Kozlowski

"I just can't make putts. That's been going on a couple weeks now. The course was set up really tough. It was really narrow and the pin placements were tough because they had the boys and girls golf provincials at the same course and they had to set it up tough for the boys, too."

Kozlowski was at her best in the first round when she carded back-to-back birdies on Holes 6 and 7.

She was driving home Thursday from Nanaimo, where she missed the cut at the B.C. Women's Amateur Championship. She shot a nine-over 81 on a sunny Tuesday and in a driving wind and rainstorm shot 84 on Wednesday and missed the cut for the final two rounds by five strokes.

"It's kind of a bummer when the weather's not good but I don't think it affected me too much," said Kozlowski, who hopes to defend her Ladies Simon Fraser Open title at PGGCC Aug. 10-11.

"I felt OK. I don't really get nervous about stuff. I just try to play well, and I didn't, but that's OK."

Kozlowski recorded her first career MLJT win in late April in Chilliwack and duplicated the feat May 20 in Banff, Alta., where she won the junior girls title on the famous Fairmont Banff Springs course.

She plans to rejoin the junior tour in Vernon on the Predator Ridge course next weekend. Then on July 26-28 she'll travel to Lethbridge, Alta., for the Canadian Junior Girls Championship, her second time to qualify for the national event. At least one change is in the cards for Kozlowski between now and then.

"I will be trying new putters," she said.

Cody Bailey of Prince George competed in the 114-golfer B.C. Junior Boys Championship and finished in a two-way tie for 21st. The 18-year-old shot 75-72-79-77 for a 303 total (+19 for the tournament). Brycen Ko of Richmond won the title, shooting one-under after four rounds, 20 fewer strokes than Bailey.

"It wasn't the best weekend for me," Bailey said. "I started out pretty well and went three-over, one-over to start the tournament and I was tied for fifth, and then the weekend came along after the cut and then I think I was trying too hard to get back into contention.

"I ended up having a little blowup and didn't play the weekend very well."

On the last hole of the tournament at Fairwinds Golf Club Sunday, Bailey was in 12th place at 13-over, needing a birdie to lock up a top-12 finish. But he ended up taking a nine which dropped him into 21st.

"I hit a driver on the hole - the rest of the week I was hitting three-iron - and I hit into the fairway bunker on the left, which was better than right because there was water down the right," Bailey said. "The hole got super-narrow after the fairway bunker and I blasted it into the (out of bounds) and I had to (take a penalty) drop."

Bailey would have played in the B.C. Men's Amateur Championship this week in Pemberton but was attending a family funeral service in Falkland. He's entered in next week's Aberdeen Glen Open, a three-round men's tournament which starts next Friday. For Bailey, it will be his first crack at the Aberdeen Glen event and he's looking forward to the test, knowing his former coaches, Blair Scott and, maybe, Shawn Lees, will enter it as well.

"They definitely have a good field, there's a couple of players coming up that I've played with or against in other tournaments that play university golf already," said Bailey. "One of them, Wyatt Brook (of Williams Lake) is going to be my teammate next year at University of Fraser Valley.

"I'm going to be practicing a lot and hopefully I'll put on a good showing. I really like that course, it's very scoreable for me. It reminds me of my home course in Terrace. There's elevation changes, it's tight with lots of trees where you can lose balls. It's just softer, and if you hit shots on the greens you're going to get more spin."

Bailey, the junior boys winner at the MLJT event in Chilliwack, wrapped up his third consecutive Junior Simon Fraser Open title on June 16. He also plans to be on his home course at PGGCC for the Men's Simon Fraser Open, Aug. 17-18. He'll also play a couple more junior tour events before school starts.

Kozlowski and Bailey have worn the crown as the city's top junior golfers for several years and they are about to make the jump to college golf this fall at the UFV in Abbotsford. Kozlowski, a College Heights graduate who turns 18 in August, plans to major in kinesiology, while Bailey wants to study criminology.

Both are looking forward to a 12-month golf season for the first time in their careers.

"We have four tournaments in the fall and there are some in the spring too - we can play all year," said Kozlowski. "School and golf, I'll see how I like it."

Bailey, a Prince George Secondary School grad, plans to attend Fraser Valley for two semesters and use that as a springboard to a U.S. college affiliated with an NCAA program.

"My plan is to stay there for one year and get some experience and transfer down into the States," said Bailey. "Down in Vancouver I'll be able to just practice and play - better than four or five months up here."

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