Big start propels Torrey Pines girls to CIF D-1 golf crown
Torrey Pines parlayed a dominant first round performance and a steady hand on the second 18 to cruise to the 2022 CIF Division I Girls Golf Championship Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 2, at Torrey Pines Golf Course. For Coach Chris Drake’s Falcons, it was their third section title in the last four years, 11th under his direction and 17th overall.
In the Monday, Oct. 31, first round at Vista Valley Country Club, despite a late start, a difficult, undulating layout, high temperatures and darkness at the tail end of the round, Torrey Pines carded an exceptional 21-over as a team, putting them 29 strokes up on second place Rancho Bernardo. Torrey posted a more modest 46-over on the Torrey Pines’ North Course two days later, resulting in a two-round total of +67, but still increased its final margin over Rancho Bernardo to 32. Canyon Crest was third at 112. Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 2, Drake was still excited about his squad’s exploits Monday, Oct. 31.
“It always feels good to win and to win a championship, but the girls exceeded my expectations,” said Drake. “The way they all played on the first day, that was the most gratifying round I’ve seen in years.“They absolutely played lights against tough competition on a tough golf course.”
When the tournament was all said and done, all five Falcon scorers were in the top 22, paced by sophomore Sehee Sim who tied for fifth (76-77—153), nine over par. A pair of birdies had her in the hunt for medalist honors until three-putting on the par three 12th started a slide that dropped her out of contention.
Following Sim on the scorecard were senior Emily Zhon (76-81—147) and sophomore Sydney Sirinian (76-81—147) who tied for 12th. Junior Annie Zhang (75-85—160), the team’s low scorer for the first 18 holes, tied for 19th and senior Muzi Wei (78-84—162) was part of a group in 22nd.
Drake was pleased about the way his team went about its business both days, particularly Monday, Oct. 31. “There were a lot of issues that could have become distractions,” he said. “I was upset but didn’t say a word to them about any of that.
“They just put their heads down and said ‘this is what we’re facing, we’re going to give it our best’ and then went out and did it.”
Sehee, who was the Falcons’ top CIF finisher last season as well, also earned plaudits from Drake. “Sehee just continues to grow and thrive as a young lady and a golfer,” added Drake. “She had a real chance to win the whole thing, had a rough stretch at the end but had not one complaint afterward. It was all about the team.” Sehee’s performance was not lost on her teammates.
“After today’s round, Sehee was being Sehee,” laughed Wei. “Complaining about her score, the three-putt, those kind of things. But despite how bad she makes it sound, she is very consistent and continues to prove she can perform in the biggest moments.
“I’m very proud of how she’s grown as a team player and the way she and the other underclassmen really pushed through this season makes me re-assured that the program is gong to be successful the next few years.”
If there was one downside to Torrey Pines’ landslide victory, it was the fact that defending champion Carlsbad was effectively forced to withdraw from the team competition due to an illness that sidelined half of its roster.
With several top players returning and a key newcomer added, the Lancers were a popular pre-season favorite to repeat. But missing solid senior Tiffany Linn on Monday, Oct. 31 at Vista Village, the Lancers found themselves a surprising 36 strokes in Torrey Pines’ wake after round one. Two other players turned up sick Wednesday, Nov. 2.
“Kind of this whole year, our eyes have been on Carlsbad and it’s unfortunate that sickness took them out of the tournament,” said Wei. “We’re a little bummed because we didn’t want to get a win without everyone there—we wanted to win another way.
“Now, we’ve got to realize that we’re going to Regionals and do our best to win against top competition there.” Drake does not consider his team’s accomplishment diminished by Carlsbad’s misfortune.
“Before the season started, I thought we were the underdogs, based on Carlsbad’s CIF performance last year and who they were bringing back,” Drake said. “Once the season got going, though, we had a long stretch where our differential was better than theirs. Then, we tied them in the first round and beat them in the second round of league play.
“That gave us confidence that we could hang with them and knew it was ours to take if we played well. It’s disappointing that they were not at full strength, but with Carlsbad at its best, I think we still would have come out on top—there’s no asterisk.”
Now, it’s on to the CIF Regionals. Torrey Pines will square off with nine other teams at Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena next Thursday, Nov. 10. The top three teams in the one-day, 18-hole tourney will advance to the CIF State Championship, being hosted six days later by San Gabriel Country Club. Drake, for one, can’t wait to see how the next two weeks unfold.
“This is the kind of ‘team’ that together can win anything they set their mind to,” said the veteran mentor. “They don’t need to depend on just one or two players and have the others just maintain—anyone can be the medalist or shoot low.
“I knew going into Monday that we were a good team and had a very good chance of moving on from the San Diego section to Regionals. I didn’t expect us to compete for a Regional or even State Championship. Monday changed that. I saw a team capable of winning either of those.”
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