The Conestoga sophomore had a tremendous golf post-season this fall. She finished second at the PIAA state championship and shot one-under-par 71 to capture the PIAA Eastern Regional Championship. She shot a 3-under-par 69 at Turtle Creek to win the Central League Tournament, and finished first at the PIAA District One Championships.
Q: You’ve had quite a post-season run, in the Central League tournament, Districts, Regions and States. What (in your opinion) has been your best round of the post-season? What was working particularly well for you that day?
A: My best round was definitely during Centrals when I shot 69 (3 under par) at Turtle Creek. It was a beautiful day and my swing was going long and straight. I hit a lot of greens and was able to make a couple of birdies from there.
Q: What is your most vivid memory of the PIAA state championship – can you share it with us?
A: Honestly, I just remember the second day, when my swing wasn’t working for me and I was missing a lot of greens even from easy distances. The easy route would’ve been to give up and finish in a not-so-great position, but I kept myself together and really battled to make some pars and birdies. That was something that I was very proud of myself for and I ended up second, which I was very excited about.
Q: What is your favorite local golf hole, and why?
A: My favorite hole is No. 10 at Waynesborough Country Club because it’s such a beautiful hole. From the tee box, the hole goes downhill and overlooks water near the green. I love the view at the top of the tee box and always do well on that hole.
Q: What is your favorite local golf course and why?
A: My favorite golf course is White Manor Country Club (and I might be a little biased because I belong there). It’s a great course that’s definitely not easy. I love how it makes me have to think because each hole is so unique and you have to strategize differently for each. Not only that, but it’s also a really nice course.
Q: What is your favorite club and why (can you give specs)? What is your favorite golf ball and why? What size grips do you feel most comfortable with?
A: My favorite club is definitely my driver. It’s the Taylormade M2 and I usually hit it straight and pretty long. It’s definitely my most consistent club in the bag. My favorite golf ball is the Titleist ProV1 just because I’ve been using it since I first started tournament golf. I’ve never had a reason to change because it works well for me. My grips are actually undersized because I have some small hands.
Q: What part of your game do you consider strongest? What aspect of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: The strongest part of my game usually varies from what’s working that day, but I usually can count on my swing to be fairly straight and consistent. I am currently working on a lot of putting because that’s one area that I would love to get even better. I think putting is one of the most important aspects of golf because it can really lower your score.
Q: Who is your favorite golfer and why? Is there a golfer whose game you try to pattern yours after?
A: My favorite golfer is Jason Day because he’s such a great player. He’s very humble which is a great quality to have and is very well-rounded in his golf game. He has no big weakness in his game-which is probably why he’s so great. I really aspire to be as great of a golfer and a person as he is one day.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-round preparation the day of a match.
A: Usually I like to hydrate by drinking lots of water and also eating Cliff bars. But then I like to talk to my teammates because everyone is really supportive and it gets me really excited to play.
Q: What, to you, has been the highlight of your golf career to date outside of Conestoga? Can you share with us your most vivid memory of that highlight?
A: The summer of my freshman year, I won the WGAP Championship which was a really big deal to me. It was four days long: first day was stroke play and cuts, the next three days were match play. The one memory that sticks out to me the most is the last day of match play, I was on the 18th hole and even with my partner. We both got on the green in two but I had a tricky downhill putt for birdie. I was super nervous as I hit the putt but it went in and I realized I had just won the tournament.
Q: Do you participate in any other sports or extracurricular activities at Conestoga? What sparked your interest in these activities?
A: Currently, I am in a few service clubs such as Student United Way that I really enjoy because I love helping out the community. I’m excited to go on some volunteer trips to really reach out to those in need and make a difference.
Q: I understand you want to play golf for a college program. What college(s) are among your current favorites?
A: For college, I would love to a Division I school. I don’t really have any favorites so far because I want to really be open-minded as I contact and visit more colleges.
Fun facts – Samantha Yao
Favorite TV show: Friends
Favorite athlete: Jason Day
Favorite place to visit: Hilton Head, S.C.
Favorite pre-game meal: “Lots of pasta!”
Person I most admire: “My mom.”
Place of birth: Sugar Land, Texas.
Family members: Parents Jane and Bing, brother Kevin and dog Frankie.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)