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Los Alamitos' Lee finishes second in CIF State Championship
RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Three is usually a number that players want to see during a round of golf. But not when it comes to putts. On one hole.
After Tuesday’s CIF State Championship for girls golf, Los Alamitos' Esther Lee knows all too well how that feels.
“It is frustrating … very frustrating,” the sophomore said.
She had two three-putts on the rather speedy greens at Red Hill Country Club, and that might have cost her the championship in the most prestigious high school tournament in the state. She finished second, carding a 1-over 75, leaving her one shot behind Grace Na of Alameda who won with an even-par 74.
Lee, who was making her first appearance at the state championships, was tied for first with Briana Mao from St. Francis of Sacramento until the final three players in the tournament posted their scores. Second- and third-place was decided by the back-nine score.
“It is a little bit disappointing to lose by just one stroke, but in golf one stroke is a big difference,” Lee said. “But it is OK. I still have two more years left (to win the title).”
And to think she almost missed her tee time Tuesday. After following some bad directions, she didn’t get to the course until about a half hour before she was supposed to start.
“I was pretty stressed,” Lee said, “but my mom … she was really freaking out.”
Normally, she said, she warms up for around 40-45 minutes before she plays in a tournament. On Tuesday, she only got to hit 20 balls on the range before she had to head to the first tee.
After seven holes, she was 1-under par, and that’s when Lee’s scorecard began to take on a different look. Even though she rolled her chip on the eight green to within three feet of the pin, she took a two-putt bogey, one of the four bogeys she posted.
“The greens were definitely faster than what I expected,” Lee said. “The downhill putts were really fast. I could have putted much better today. But it is just really great to come here to state and play.”
Practice rounds were not allowed for this tournament and course knowledge here, Lee said, could definitely lead to lower scores. There are a lot of blind spots at Red Hill, so players can’t see the greens and have no idea how the ball is going to roll.
Course experience could have helped Canyon sophomore Elisabeth Bernabe, too, especially on the 346-yard, par-4 No. 9.
A marker on a sprinkler head near where her tee shot landed said she had 115 yards to the middle of the green. Figure in that the pin sheet told her to add seven yards to that, and she had 122 yards to the pin. But it was slightly uphill to the green, so by her calculations, the hole was playing more like 127 yards, which is a 9-iron for her.
“I thought it was going to be a good shot too. It had a nice little fade,” she said.
But she ended up hitting a flyer which rolled out of bounds. She took a double-bogey and went from 1-under to 1-over.
“When they said I was OB, I was like, ‘Wow! How could I fly everything,’ ” she said. “Maybe I am stronger, or the sprinkler head is wrong.”
Canyon was the only school that had two players make it to the state tournament as individuals, and Bernabe’s teammate, Jessica Vasilic, shot a 6-over 80 after holing a chip on the 18th.
“It was for bogey, though, and a bogey is not a good way to end it,” Vasilic said. “It just wasn’t my day.”
It wasn’t Kaitlin Park’s day, either. The Beckman junior posted an 86, 20 shots higher than her score when she won the WSCGA So Cal Championship in Murrieta last week.
“My shots were going all over the place. I couldn’t control my distance,” Park said. “A lot of the holes, I just wasn’t being smart.”