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Woodbridge's Yoshihara wins CIF State title with late surge
SAN GABRIEL – Hide Yoshihara’s experience with San Gabriel Country Club consisted of the cursory glance he gave the yardage book Wednesday morning before he teed off in the CIF State Championship.
The Woodbridge senior is obviously a quick study.
After watching his 10-foot par putt lip out on par-3 14th, Yoshihara carded four consecutive birdies to become the fifth Orange County player to win the prestigious boys high school tournament since 2005.
Yoshihara was one of three golfers in the elite 54-player field to post a score in the 60s, shooting a 6-under-par 65 in his first appearance in the state tournament. His round included six birdies and one bogey, and he was 5-under on the par-4s and 2 under on the course’s three par-5s.
Adam Navigato (66) and Kaiwen Liu (67) finished second and third to help Torrey Pines win the team championship.
The triumph gives Yoshihara an exemption into the SCGA Amateur Championship and the California Amateur Championship.
“It is cool to be one of the champions. To be able to win this tournament was one of the goals that I had when I started playing (at Woodbridge),” Yoshihara said. “This means a lot, and I can’t thank enough the people who helped me throughout the season.”
Yoshihara’s ball striking couldn’t have been better. His drives split the fairways and his approach shots rarely landed more than 10 feet away from the pin, hitting 16 of the 18 greens in regulation.
He was 2 under par through his first three holes, but then his birdie putts stopped falling, grazing the edge of the cup as they raced by on the firm fast greens.
Yoshihara carded nine consecutive pars before he drained an 8-foot birdie putt on the 539-yard, par 5 13th to drop to 3 under par.
But he gave the stroke he gained back on the next hole. His tee shot on the par-3 14th landed in the bunker and he walked off the green with a two-putt bogey.
“I kind of thought that might be it. But I didn’t give up on it. I focused on each shot each time,” Yoshihara said. “I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I knew I was hitting the ball well.”
And he rolled in a 20-foot downhill putt on the 15th, beginning his run of four birdies in a row. He clinched the championship on the 18th green with an uphill 10-foot putt that broke a little to left at the end.
“It would have been easy for him to get frustrated when he wasn’t making putts early,” Woodbridge coach Tracy Roberts said. “He just hung in there and hung in there. That is what separates greatness. When things weren’t dropping, he never wavered.”