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Lillie, Troy capture both titles in SoCal regional
SAN BERNARDINO – When Beth Lillie was warming up on the driving range 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 well as she could.
Over the weekend, she made an official visit to the University of Virginia, and she didn’t make it back home until Monday. She hadn’t touched a club in close to a week.
She could feel the rust as she got ready to tee off in the WSCGA Southern California 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 and win the individual championship, and help Troy cruise to a 14-stroke victory in the team competition.
“I have never gone really, really low in tournaments,” she said. “Usually, I am just pretty steady. 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 qualified for the CIF State Championship, which will be played Tuesday at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga. It is the first time Troy has qualified as a team for the 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 the five scoring players for the Warriors broke 80, and Troy finished 3-over par as a team with a 366. La Serna of Whittier came in second (380) followed by Walnut (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 freshmen 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,” Lillie said. “It is so cool how motivated we all are.”
Kaylee Sakoda posted a 75 for Troy and Hannah Ro added an 80, her best 18-hole score.
It was the second time this postseason that Troy beat 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 (beat them) when it mattered,” Troy Coach Jerry Cowgill said of Walnut. “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 by draining a 10-foot downhill birdie putt on her next-to-last hole. Michelle Wong (La Serna) and Alexa Melton (South Hills of West Covina) 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 qualified for the state championship, too. She shot a 72 and survived a six-way sudden-death playoff to earn one of the final tee times in Tuesday’s event.
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