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O.C. players sweep top three spots in CIF-SS regional
LONG BEACH – She was running late thanks to the rush-hour gridlock on the freeway Wednesday morning, putting her close to missing her tee time at Recreation Park Golf Course.
Brea Olinda sophomore Amy Lee finally pulled into the parking lot some 15 minutes before she was supposed to start her round in the CIF-SS Southern Individual Regional. She only had enough time to swing her driver twice on the range.
“It would have been nice to do a little putting, too,” she said.
The greens were running fast, and Lee said she had trouble dialing in the speed of her putts. It was hard to tell that from the way she played, however, as she was just about perfect from 10 feet and in, holing six birdies to card a 5-under par 69. That put her at the top of the leaderboard, one shot clear of Canyon senior Jessica Vasilic and Yorba Linda sophomore Brooke Graebe, who shared second place.
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Vasilic and Graebe both posted 4-under 70, but Vasilic was awarded second place on a card-off because she shot a 1-under-par 35 on the back nine. Graebe came in with a 38.
“I had a lot of three-putts and dumb mistakes, but I am not going to complain,” Vasilic said. “I am still happy with the 70. There is nothing you can win here, so the goal for me was to make it (the cut). ”
The 51 girls who posted an 83 or better advanced to the CIF-SS Championship, which will be held Nov. 1 at Western Hills Country Club in Chino Hills. Lee won a playoff in that tournament last year to finish third.
“I played really good today. This is pretty big," Lee said. "It is CIF, the finals of our season. I am trying my best to win.
"I have been really comfortable with my shots. Last year, I played well, but I wasn’t comfortable with my driving. This year, I’d just go on the tee and whack it down the middle, and not even think about it.”
She has finished in the top 10 in three of her last five AJGA starts, including a victory at the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior. On Wednesday, Lee missed only one fairway and hit all but two greens in regulation.
She made a swing change last spring, and now, she said she moves the club more around herself, which has allowed her to bring the trajectory of the ball flight down, making her shots go straighter. She’s also picked up about 10 yards in distance. She had eagle putts on four of the Park’s five par-5s.
Vasilic played those same holes at 7-under, and her Canyon teammate Elisabeth Bernabe came within about a foot of getting a double-eagle on the 450-yard par-5 17th. She tapped in to finish her round birdie, birdie, par, par, eagle. (The tournament was played with a shotgun start, and her first hole was the 18th).
“I really needed that (the eagle) because I got off to a slow start today,” said Bernabe, who carded a 2-under-par 72 to tie for sixth. “I just had one blow-up hole. My drive went to left and I was up against a fence, and I really couldn’t do anything with it.”
Graebe can relate to that. Her tee shot on the par-4 13th, hit a sprinkler in the middle of the fairway, bounced onto the cart path and rolled out of bounds into a maintenance vehicle parking lot.
She made the turn at 6-under, but she gave back to shots on that hole after draining a 10-foot uphill putt for a double bogey. She ended her day at Rec Park, rolling in a 4-foot birdie putt on the 17th, to post a 70, which is a 15 shot improvement over her performance here last year.
“All parts of my game are working right now,” said the Yorba Linda sophomore who only started playing golf 2 ½ years ago. “I am really happy with my score. I have worked so hard over the summer.”