Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Three-peat would be a treat

Golfer on track to defend title -- again

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Bri-ann Tokariwski can drive a golf ball off the tee box about 220 yards consistently. In this aspect of the game she considers herself one of the "shorties" of the field.

But there is also one other thing she does on a consistent basis -- better than anyone -- and that's sit atop the leaderboard in women's amateur golf in Manitoba. Next week, Tokariwski will be going for an astounding third straight Women's Amateur Championship at the St. Charles Country Club.

It's an achievement that hasn't been done in nearly 20 years, 18 to be exact. But Tokariwski is looking forward to the challenge.

'I did my first tournament when I was 14, which was the Manitoba bantam championship, which I actually won, so I kinda got the bug after that and it's been smooth sailing ever since'

-- Bri-Ann Tokariwski

"I think the biggest thing is to just go out there and play my golf," Tokariwski said, noting that if she wanted to, she could launch a ball 240 yards. "But the ultimate goal is to win for sure."

The 21-year-old Elmhurst Golf and Country Club member looks in good shape so far this season, having claimed the first two major tournaments of the year, the Women's City and District Championship and the Match Play Championship. "I was quite excited about both of those so, I can't complain about the way that I played," she said.

So where does her elite-level talent come from? Well, for starters she got into the sport at an early age. She started playing when she was six years old when her dad handed her a sawed-down five iron, which she used when her dad golfed with his friends.

"I did my first tournament when I was 14," Tokariwski said. "Which was the Manitoba Bantam Championship, which I actually won, so I kinda got the bug after that and it's been smooth sailing ever since."

Tokariwski's success in her early years led to her attending the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky on a golf scholarship where nearly everything is paid for by her school. She said her school has been crucial to her success because it allows her to golf all year-round.

"But I think the biggest thing is my support system, my support system is phenomenal," she said. "What I mean by that is my coaches, Chris Kraftick and Derek Ingram, and especially my friends and my family."

Along with the Manitoba amateur championship, Tokariwski has her sights set on two other big tournaments later this summer, the United States amateur qualifier and the Canadian Women's Amateur Championship in Woodstock, Ont. Last year she failed to make the cut after the first two rounds of the Canadian amateur, ending her tournament. Tokariwski said she has high expectations this year.

"With the 'U.S. AM' qualifier, I'm trying to qualify for the United States Amateur Championship," she said. "And the Canadian women's amateur, I want to make the cut this year. This will be my fifth year going there and I really want to make the cut this year."

But as she heads into her final year of university, studying communication arts, she is confident in where she wants to take her golf career.

"I volunteer for Golf Manitoba, so I see both the tournament side as a player and setting it up and running it," Tokariwski said. "So ulitmately I would like to end up at Golf Manitoba, doing competitions, setting up competitions and really furthering golf here in Manitoba."

kyle.edwards@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2014 C6

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