Dana Hills' French leads South Coast finals
SAN CLEMENTE – Her sister did it first, winning the South Coast League girls golf championship in her senior season at Dana Hills.
Then it was Avery French’s turn tee it up for the Dolphins. And in just her second season with the varsity team, the Dana Hills sophomore won the 36-hole league finals just like Whitney French, who was off playing for Oregon State at that time.
But unlike Whitney, Avery didn’t just stop at one trophy. She’s in a position to accomplish a very rare feat in girls golf.
On Monday at San Clemente Municipal Golf Course, Avery was the only golfer in the 30-player field to post a subpar round, carding a 2-under-par 71 which put her on pace to win the South Coast League title for the third year in a row.
Last year, her margin of victory was 17 strokes. But there’s not that much daylight between her and the challengers this time around. She takes a three-shot lead over her Dana Hills teammate Elizabeth Soewondo into Tuesday’s final round.
Haley Fuller (Trabuco Hills) is five strokes off the lead in third followed by Maddy Smith (Laguna Hills) and Amanda Brown (Tesoro), who are tied for fourth after shooting a 78.
The thirteen girls who posted a score of 89 or better on Monday made the cut, and the top five finishers will earn a berth in the CIF-SS Southern Individual Regional, which will be played at Recreation Park Golf Course in Long Beach on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
“I like having competition behind you because it pushes you,” French said. “Instead of playing my own game last year (with the big lead), I was saying to myself, ‘Oh my God just beat her … just beat her.’ This is more exciting.”
French holed three birdies during her round on Monday, and went out with a 3-under 34. She gave one back, though, on her first hole on the back nine after she dropped her approach on the 366-yard, par-4 No. 10 in the bunker. It took her two shots to get on the green, but she holed her putt for a bogey.
When she began her winning streak in the league tournament as a sophomore, she never thought she would be in this position just two years later.
“Sophomore year, it was a surprise that I won. I didn’t think about it going in. Junior year I was like hopefully I can do it again,” French said. “This year I figured if I come out and play good, I will have a good score and hopefully, it will work out for me again.”
Dana Hills coach Phil Wilburton saw the positional, however, and knew this day was going to come.
“She had the pedigree to be a very outstanding golfer. Part of it was because she was following in her sister’s footsteps,” he said. “She seemed to like the game as much as her sister, and she got the early success of it, and I could see down the road that this girl was going to go a long way.”
The two girls who shot an 89 wouldn’t be playing on Tuesday had Tesoro’s Ana Song not made a mistake on her scorecard. Her score was correct, and she did indeed post an 87 which would have made the cut, but the card she turned in had a four written down instead of a five, and because she signed for a lower score, she was disqualified, dropping the cut to 89.
In the Century League Finals:
Canyon senior Elisabeth Bernabe fired a tournament record 10-under-par 62 at El Prado Golf Course, eclipsing the tournament record set last year by Brea Olinda freshman Amy Lee by two strokes.
She takes an eight-stroke lead into Tuesday’s final round over her Canyon teammate Jessica Vasilic - who has been playing with a sore lower back – and Madie Chou (Foothill). Both players finished with a 2-under 70.