DLN ALL-AREA: Conestoga sophomore Yao peaked in postseason

TREDYFFRIN >> Conestoga High School sophomore Samantha Yao, the Daily Local News’ 2016 All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year, had a tremendous postseason this fall, finishing in first place at just about every stop.

At the Central League Championships, she shot her best round of the season, a three-under-par 69 at Turtle Creek Golf Course, to finish first.

Yao then finished first at the District 1 Championships, also at Turtle Creek, shooting 79-72-151 to win the title by four strokes.

The Conestoga sophomore moved on to the PIAA Eastern Regional Championship, where she shot one-under-par 71 at Golden Oaks Golf Club to finish first by four strokes. Her round included six birdies.

At the PIAA Clss 3A Championships, she opened the two-day tournament with a first-round 72 that left her in a tie for the lead. In the second round, she hit a rough patch, carding two double bogeys on the first five holes, but battled back to within two strokes of the lead to finish second with a 72-74-146 total.

“On the second day, my swing wasn’t working for me and I was missing a lot of greens, even from easy distances,” said Yao. “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.”

Conestoga golf coach John Jones said, “Samantha had a phenomenal year. During the postseason, she displayed her competitive spirit and drive to win. She has the ability to raise her level of play and take it to another level in big tournaments.”

Yao says her favorite golfer is Jason Day: “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.”

Like Day, Yao has a solid all-around game — and constantly works to keep it that way.

“She has an incredible inner drive to be the best golfer she can be,” Jones said. “She has discipline and a great work ethic. She is always putting in extra time on her game. She practices her complete game — spends extra time with her putting, short game, sand shots. Above all, Samantha is friendly, outgoing, and a great teammate.”

Yao is a member of White Manor Country Club (her favorite local course), and her favorite local golf hole is the 10th hole at Waynesborough Country Club.

“It’s such a beautiful hole,” said Yao. “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.”

Off the course, Yao belongs to several service clubs at Conestoga, such as Student United Way.

“I love helping out the community,” said Yao. “I’m excited to go on volunteer trips to really reach out to those in need and make a difference.”

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