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CdM's Matsuoka puts together amazing streak
NEWPORT BEACH - A circle of golf balls hugged the pin on the green in the chipping area at Newport Beach Country Club. None was more than 2 feet away from its intended target.
At this point, Amy Matsuoka would expect nothing less.
For two hours each day, the Corona del Mar senior is at the course, wedge in had, working to perfect her short game. Her routine has turned her into one of the top girls golfers in the county.
It is rare to seea player open a season with a streak like hers. She has medaled or co-medaled in the Sea Kings’ first nine matches with a cumulative score of 20-under par. During that span, she never finished worse than even-par.
“Yeah, it is kind of amazing,” said the Oregon-bound Matsuoka. “I thought I'd be over par at least once. It has definitely been a confidence booster.
“My short game has been key. I work on it a lot, definitely. I really wanted to improve and shoot lower scores, and I knew that (short game) is how I was going to be able to do it. I just want to keep playing my best and have fun out there.”
Matsuoka has been playing on some of the more difficult courses in the county. She posted a 5-under-par 32 at Aliso Viejo Country Club and a 2-under-par 34 at Oak Creek Country Club and a a 4-under-par 31 at Newport Beach Country Club, which will play host to the Champions Tour’s Toshiba Classic later this month.
“Nope. Not a chance has this (kind of a streak) ever happened with me, not even in the boys when we were playing our best,” Corona del Mar coach Mike Starkweather said. “She has just been blazing hot. She is unbelievable.”
Matsuoka did not play for the Sea Kings last year. She spent her junior year concentrating on her school work and playing in junior tournaments around the nation.
While she was away, she finished in the top 10 in four of her seven AJGA starts, including a victory at the Lockton/Kansas City Junior. She posted rounds of 71-70-75 during her four-stroke triumph at The National Golf Club of Kansas City in 2014.
Starkweather said Matsuoka took on more of a leadership role with the team this season, guiding the Sea Kings with her work ethic and giving them an example to follow. The freshmen and sophomores on the team ask to be paired with Matsuoka during a match, Starkweater said, because they learn so much from her.
Matsuoka helped keep the team on track while teammate Alyaa Abdulghany, the No. 7 player in Golfweek's national Sagarin rankings, recently traveled to Canada and Germany to compete in two prestigious junior tournaments.
The shorthanded Sea Kings managed to beat Pacific Coast League rivals Northwood and University with Matsuoka leading the way for CdM in both macthes. She posted a 2-under-par 33 at Newport Beach CC against the Trojans and a 2-under-par 34 against the Timberwolves at Oak Creek.
When Abdulghany returns next week, Starkweather said, “It's going to get real intersting” for the Sea Kings.
“When have you ever had a spearhead like those two (Matsuoka and Abdulghany)? This is my best team ever,” Starkweather said.
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