Beth Lillie and Troy place first at So Cal Championships

SAN BERNARDINO – When Beth Lillie was warming up on the range on Thursday at Arrowhead Country Club, the Troy senior thought she might be in for a long day.

She wasn’t hitting the ball nearly as good as she could.

Over the weekend, she made her official visit to Virginia, and she didn’t make it back home until Monday. She hadn’t touched a club in close to a week.

And she could feel the rust as she got ready to tee off in the WSCGA Southern California Girls Glolf Regional Championship.

Once she got on the course, though, things couldn’t have been more different. Suddenly, she was hitting her irons nearly perfect, all her putts seemed to find the bottom of the cup, and she was on her way to the lowest round of her career.

Lillie finished with seven birdies and an eagle to card a 7-under-par 65 to win the individual championship and also help Troy cruise to a 14-stroke victory in the team competition at the tournament.

 “I have never gone really, really low in tournaments. Usually, I am just pretty steady,” she said. “This just shows you what happens in warm up doesn’t really matter. This feels really good.”   

Her previous best round was a 68. She posted that at San Juan Hills Golf Course in an SCGPA tournament.

Lillie and the Warriors have qualified for the CIF State Championship, which will be played on Tuesday at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga. This is the first time that Troy has qualified a team for the prestigious tournament.

“To do what we did today … this is amazing,” Troy coach Jerry Cowgill said. “To be with all of these good teams is one thing, but to beat them all … it is amazing.”

Four of the Warriors five scoring players broke 80 as Troy finished three over par as a team with a 366. La Serna came in second with a 380 followed by Walnut, which carded a 383. La Serna and Walnut earned the final two places in the state championship.

“We are so good this year because sometimes you have freshman and sophomores that don’t have that drive,” Lillie said. “But this year everybody wants to make it every single tournament. I am so proud of them.”

Two freshman finished in the 70s for the Warriors. Isabel Sy shot a 2-under-par 70 while Sherilyn Villanueva added a 76.

“I would much rather have gone (to state) with my team than by myself. It is way more fun,” she said. “It is so cool how motivated we all are.”

Kaylee Sakoda posted a 75 for Troy with Hannah Ro adding an 80, her best 18-hole score.

This is the second time this postseason that Troy has beaten arch rival Walnut. The Warriors edged Walnut by four strokes to win the CIF-SS Eastern Team Regional last month.

“We play them all of the time and we did it twice when it mattered,” Cowgill said. “The freshmen were the difference for us this year. They are silly and brought a light heartedness to the team too. And for Beth to shoot her best round ever makes this even more amazing.”

Lillie eased to a two-stroke triumph after draining a 10-foot downhill birdie putt on her next to last hole. Michelle Wong (La Serna) and Alexa Melton (South Hills) both posted a 5-under-par 67, but Wong was awarded second place on a card off. Kennedy sophomore Irene Kim placed fifth with a 4-under-par 68 to become the first Fighting Irish girls golfer to make it to state.

 “I am proud of that. That is one of my achievements,” Kim said. “This feels great because last year, I missed it by two strokes There were some short birdie putts that I missed, and I am disappointed about that. But  today, I feel really proud.”     

Sage Hill’s Mary Shin earned qualified for the state championship, too, but she shot a 72 and had to survive a six-way sudden death playoff to earn one of the two final tee times at Red Hill.

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