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Alyaa Abdulghany of Corona del Mar laughs while playing a match against Beckman at Newport Beach Country Club. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

CdM's Abdulghany adds Ryder Cup win to her stellar resume

STAFF WRITER

Corona del Mar girls golf coach Mike Starkweather remembers well the day he got acquainted with Alyaa Abdulghany, even though it happened about four years ago.

He was at Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine, waiting for the Sea Kings to tally up their scores after a match when Lisa Baker, the coach for Irvine, pointed to a petite eighth-grader playing the ninth hole. It was Abdulghany.

She asked Starkweather if he knew the girl. He said no. Baker told him to go meet her fast.

Abdulghany introduced herself a few moments later, comparing her score to the one Amy Matsuoka had just posted for the Sea Kings. Abdulghany beat Matsuoka by one stroke - a 3-under-par 33.

“They got in each other’s face,” Starkweather said. “That was incredible. You never see that sort of thing in girls golf. That (her score) was pretty impressive.”

Since then, Abdulghany, now a senior at CdM, has established herself as perhaps the best high school girls golfer in county history. Last year, she became the first Orange County player to win the girls CIF State Championship. She won the tournament by setting a women’s course-record at Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach with a 2-under-par 69.

Now the rest of the world is getting a chance to see Abdulghany’s seemingly limitless potential, too. And her first impression will likely be as lasting as the one she left on Starkweather.

This week at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn., the Corona del Mar senior helped the United States post its fifth consecutive victory against Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup. The U.S. team won, 15½-8½.

Abdulghany teamed with Norman Xiong to win a mixed four-ball match, 5&4, and Tuesday she won her singles match, defeating Europe’s Julia Engstrom, 3&1.

“Being a member of the 2016 USA Junior Ryder Cup team is absolutely an unforgettable experience, as I’m out there wearing the red, white and blue,” Abdulghany said in an e-mail. “It’s such a wonderful honor, and I’m so proud to say that USA did retain the cup.”

One of the many memories she said she will cherish from the event is meeting the professionals for the Ryder Cup, which is taking place this weekend at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.

She met Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Patrick Reed, Darren Clarke and Davis Love III. She also spoke with Sir Nick Faldo and Corey Pavin, who both invited her to play in tournaments they host.

“Having these types of connections with the greatest golfers out there is so beneficial and really an unforgettable moment,” she said.

Abdulghany earned her place on the 12-player Junior Ryder Cup roster when she posted a 5-under-par 208 to take second in the Junior PGA Championship at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I. That result ended what she called a very stressful qualifying process, one that required her to be incredibly organized so she that she could keep up with her classes at Corona del Mar.

Abdulghany estimates she missed close to 20 weeks of school while competing in tournaments around the country to get in position to win a Junior Ryder Cup roster spot.

She said she often asked her teachers if she could work ahead in class and turn assignments in early before she left to play in a tournament.

“I did whatever worked for the teacher. It was very tedious,” Abdulghany said, “but it all paid off in the end, so I am very happy.”

She has more than her Ryder Cup performance to be pleased about.

On Sept. 11, she won the SCPGA Corey Pavin Invitational, shooting a 7-under-par 209 in the junior tour event on the Celebrity Course at the Indian Wells Golf Resort.

She is fourth in the most recent Golfweek national Sagarin rankings.

While playing in a recent match for Corona del Mar, she set a course and school record with an 8-under-par 28 on the front nine at El Niguel Country Club in Laguna Niguel to help the Sea Kings beat Aliso Niguel, 202-206.

Abdughany seems poised to join Sharon Barrett (Monte Vista) and Jenny Shin (Torrance) as the only girls to a defend a CIF State championship.

But that isn’t a top priority for her, she said.

Her focus is on getting her game in shape to play for USC next fall.

“She has this insight to know what she has to do to be successful,” Starkweather said. “Her shot-making and shot selection is just unbelievable. She has it.”

Contact the writer: ddottore@scng.com


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