Fleetwood >> Monday’s drizzle and wet fairways at the PIAA East Regional Championships couldn’t cool down West Chester East’s red-hot freshman Victoria Kim, fresh off her first-place finishes at the District 1 and Ches-Mont Championships earlier this month.
Kim carded three birdies en route to a one-over-par 73 and a second-place finish in the Girls AAA division, two strokes behind the champion, Pennsbury sophomore Jade Gu, at Golden Oaks Golf Club.
After a slow start in which she bogeyed the first two holes, Kim scored back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7-8, and closed strongly, birdieing the final hole for her, the par 4 17th hole (it was a shotgun start), with a drive, a 52 degree wedge and a short putt.
“My short game was pretty good today; I knew the greens were really fast and all I really wanted to do was two-putt and get out of way as fast as I could,” said Kim. “My chips have been improving, and my irons are improving too.
“My drives are usually dead on; today they were a little off – I usually hit a high draw but today they were hooking. But usually, I was lucky enough to have a good second shot today.”
The top 13 girls in the AAA division (the cut line was at 81) advanced to the PIAA State Individual Golf Championships, to be played Oct. 22-23 at Heritage Holls Golf Resort in York.
Downingtown East senior Liddie McCook shot a 77 to finish in third place in the Girls AAA competition and easily qualified qualify for States once again.
“I feel really good about my round today, I had a nice rhythm going and started off really strong,” said McCook, who birdied the final hole. “I’m looking forward to playing in States again; I like that course [Heritage Hills], it’s really quirky and the greens have a lot of undulations.”
The fairways were wet Monday; it had rained earlier in the morning and the scheduled tee off time of 9 a.m. (shotgun start) was moved back 30 minutes because of fog. While there were no puddles on the hilly Golden Oaks course, the fairways were dew-covered as the humidity was 100 percent at 11 a.m.
The greens were holding approach shots well, but proved to be a challenge due to their speed.
“I was hitting a lot of greens, but I feel like I could have putted better,” said Conestoga senior Samantha Yao, whose 79 placed her in a five-way tie for fifth place and advanced her to States.
Haverford sophomore Riley Quartermain, whose 80 advanced her to States for the first time, said, “This course is hard, but I like the length of it. I hit my driver really good today.”
Another sophomore making it under the wire in the Girls AAA division was Unionville sophomore Charlotte Scully, who shot an 81.
“I’m not happy with the way I played today; I was even par through six holes, then I had a long bogey run,” said Scully. “I had a lot of long putts today, which isn’t good for making birdies.”
The AAA boys’ champion Monday was Central York junior Carson Bacha, who shot a three-under-par 69 on the 6,648 yard layout (from the gold tees, which the boys played from). Two shots back at 71 were Council Rock South senior Matt Fleming and Central Bucks East senior Patrick Sheehan.
Harriton junior Andrew Wallace was tied for fourth, in a three-way deadlock at 72, and is going to States for the first time.
“My driving was very good today; I [accidentally] broke my driver at Districts, and I used a new driver today,” said Wallace. “I like this course; it was very receptive today [for approach shots] and the greens were the perfect speed.”
Norristown senior Caleb Ryan fired a 72 and will be heading to States for the third straight year. His younger brother Josh, a sophomore at Norristown, shot 73 and will be returning to States for a second time.
“My driving was good – I didn’t miss many fairways, and my ball-striking was good all-around,” said Josh Ryan. “But I missed five putts under five feet. My putting stroke wasn’t steady today.”
Two strokes back at 75, and making the cut to advance to States, was Unionville senior Will Bennink. Connor Bennink also qualified for States with his 77, which was the cut line.
“I left a lot of shots out there today; I didn’t have my best stuff but I’m happy that I was able to put it together enough to make it to States,” said Connor Bennink. “My iron play and course management were OK, I didn’t make any big mistakes out there today and didn’t sabotage my round.”
The Unionville senior also reflected on Monday’s wet fairways.
“Even though I’m somewhat of a long hitter; I couldn’t take advantage of the par 5s, – the drives were all carry today,” said Connor Bennink.
Like Unionville, Harriton is sending two golfers to State in the boys’ AAA division – Wallace and fellow junior David Fitzgerald, whose 76 sent him to States for the first time.
Harriton coach Brian Dobak said, “Andrew and David really came into the regional locked and loaded, playing very well and in a groove. On the driving range before the round, I don’t think Andrew missed a shot, compressing the ball nicely, [with] great trajectory and taking nice beautiful divots, he cut it short while he was ahead. David had a pretty good practice session, had a few misses, but he was picking the ball cleanly which is characteristic of his shotmaking.”
Fitzgerald likes the Golden Oaks layout.
“This course is a cool layout, and is in good condition,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s different than Turtle Creek [site of the District 1 Championships, where he finished fifth] – a little more demanding off the tee, and there’s a little more room around the greens.
“I hit the ball pretty solid, I just couldn’t get any putts to drop today. The conditions were tough, and I had to keep grinding it out to get a good score.”
Two District 1 golfers in the Boys’ AAA division made it just under the wire in qualifying for States by shooting 77 – Unionville’s Connor Bennink and Spring-Ford senior Axel Kalbach. Radnor senior David Colleran, the only golfer to shoot 78 in the Boys’ AAA Division, missed qualifying for States by one stroke.
Among the 14 boys who qualified for States in AA was Devon Prep sophomore Ryan McCabe, who finished in third place with a 76, two strokes behind the winner, Notre Dame East Stroudsburg senior William Mirams. McCabe made the trip to States last year, too.
“My putting needs to be better, but I hit the ball good today,” said McCabe. “The course played tough today – the greens were pretty fast. I like this course – the holes are pretty much out in front of you [not many doglegs].”
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