His­tory Re­peats: Sopho­more fires im­pres­sive round of 1-un­der, ad­vances to states

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Thomas Nash tnash@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Thomas_Nash10 on Twit­ter

FLEET­WOOD >> With five play­ers vy­ing for the fi­nal three spots to earn a berth at next week’s PIAA Cham­pi­onships, Con­estoga’s Sa­man­tha Yao was strolling ca­su­ally on the cart­path as she watched the play­ers come down the No. 18 fair­way.

My, the dif­fer­ence a year can make.

A year after she missed the cut as a re­sult of a one-hole play­off, Yao cap­tured the PIAA-AAA East Re­gion Cham­pi­onship at Golden Oaks Golf Club ti­tle Mon­day with a 1-un­der 71.

“Last year was re­ally tough,” she said. “I was so close, but just missed go­ing to states. It def­i­nitely wasn’t the way I wanted to end my sea­son.”

Yao posted six birdies and five bo­geys en route to fin­ish­ing four strokes bet­ter than the rest of the field Mon­day. She opened her round with a pair of birdies on the first two holes, then closed out the frontside with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 to put her at 2-un­der.

Rad­nor’s Gabby Kim fin­ished tied with Emmaus’ Sa­man­tha Fritzinger and Man­heim Town­ship’s Ellen Wag­ner for sec­ond place at 3-over 75.

Just a few days after cap­tur­ing the Dis­trict One ti­tle at Tur­tle Creek, Yao brought with her a sim­i­lar ap­proach to Golden Oaks. Hardly a risk-taker, Yao trusted her short game through­out, flirt­ing with about 30 putts for her round.

“My put­ter def­i­nitely saved me a few times,” said Yao. “Be­ing ag­gres­sive is just not my style, so I was stick­ing my shots close and mak­ing a lot of good par putts.”

With last year’s fin­ish still fresh on his mind, Con­estoga head coach John Jones was pleased to see Yao make it out of regionals.

“We’re re­ally happy she’s got a chance to com­pete at states,” said Jones. “The play­offs are tough to get through, es­pe­cially as a fresh­man. She de­serves ev­ery­thing she earned to­day.”

June Kim, sis­ter of Gabby, will also be head­ing up to Her­itage Hills for next week’s state tour­na­ment after shoot­ing a 7-over 79. Wis­sahickon’s Cris­tea Park sur­vived the play­off hole to earn a state play­off bid after post­ing a 10-over 82.

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