Wiss’ Park, Mount’s Gim­pel reach re­gion­als

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Neil Geoghe­gan ngeoghe­gan@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @NeilMGeoghe­gan on Twit­ter

LIMERICK » To the sur­prise of ab­so­lutely no one, Con­estoga’s Sa­man­tha Yao didn’t break a sweat en route to suc­cess­fully de­fend­ing her dis­trict girls’ class 3A golf ti­tle on Wednesday at Tur­tle Creek Golf Club.

The ju­nior notched the only sub-par round of the day to trounce the rest of the field at the Dis­trict 1 Golf Cham­pi­onship. Yao’s near­est com­peti­tors were Lid­die McCook of Down­ing­town East and Sophia Man­cuso of Cen­tral Bucks East, who fin­ished nine shots back.

“I won it last year, so with that in mind, I knew I could do it again,” Yao said. “I felt a lit­tle pres­sure (as de­fend­ing champ), but it’s going to be like that in a tour­na­ment like this no mat­ter what.”

Play­ing on a more dif­fi­cult venue than the day be­fore, Yao carded a 1-un­der-par 71, which

was six shots bet­ter than the near­est com­peti­tor. Com­bined with a 74 on Tues­day at Gil­bertsville Golf Club, her two-day, 32hole to­tal was 2-over 145.

“Last year I shot 69 here in dis­tricts,” Yao said. “I’ve al­ways played pretty well here.”

In­clud­ing Yao, a to­tal of eight 3A golfers ad­vanced to the PIAA Re­gion­als, which will take place on Oct. 16 at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Fleet­wood. Villa Maria’s Brooke Sander (98-97 – 195) was the lone qual­i­fier from class 2A.

“The girls are get­ting so much bet­ter over­all, even from last year,” said Wis­sahickon’s Cris­tea Park.

Park (79-76 – 155) was one of the regional qual­i­fiers, but the ju­nior had the day’s top high­light: the first hole-in-one of her golf­ing ca­reer. The rest of the qual­i­fiers in­clude McCook (76-78 – 154); Man­cuso (75-79 – 154); Cen­tral Bucks South’s Lizzie Palmieri (76-80 – 156); Unionville’s Char­lotte Scully (8277 – 159); Great Val­ley’s Liv Ju­liana (80-80 – 160) and Mt. St. Joseph’s Clare Gim­pel (89-81 – 161).

“My main goal for re­gion­als is to qual­ify and get to states, and I would re­ally love to have a (state) cham­pi­onship,” said Yao, who plays out of White Manor Coun­try Club and has been play­ing golf for a decade, since age eight.

Yao toured the 5,827yard, par-72 lay­out with two birdies, 15 pars and one bo­gey, which came on her fi­nal hole and the out­come al­ready as­sured. McCook and Man­cuso were in her four­some on Wednesday and were un­doubt­edly im­pressed.

“(Yao) hits the ball pure and makes no mis­takes. I think she missed two greens and if that hap­pened, it seemed like she would just make a long putt to save par,” Man­cuso said.

“I’ve been play­ing with Sam for a cou­ple years, and we are re­ally close. We just played in a four-ball tour­na­ment the other day,” McCook added.

“She is an amaz­ing player. She is so solid. When it comes to the tour­na­ments and she needs to play well, she does it. She played lights out (Wednesday).”

Start­ing on the 10th hole, Yao moved un­der par with a tap-in birdie on the par-5 13th. Mo­men­tum picked up when she made a 30-footer to save par at the first hole after driv­ing into a bunker and chunk­ing it out. It was the only green she missed in reg­u­la­tion all day.

“I’ve been work­ing on my swing a lit­tle bit and my putting has gone down lately,” Yao said. “I re­ally want to get those lag-up putts close and maybe drop a few.”

Buoyed by the re­sults at No. 1, Yao came right back on the very next hole and made an­other sim­i­larly long putt, this time for a birdie.

“It was nice to see those drop,” she said.

McCook reg­is­tered 13 pars, in­clud­ing seven on her first nine holes, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace with Yao.

“My chip­ping was solid and I could count on that,” said McCook, a ju­nior. “I hit one drive out of bounds, but other than that I felt con­fi­dent off the tee. I just need to work on my putting.”

Just a shot back at the start of the day, Man­cuso man­aged to birdie two of her first four holes, but the ju­nior was un­able to keep it going.

“I started off shaky, the mid­dle got me going, but I kind of strug­gled through the last nine,” Man­cuso ex­plained. “I didn’t hit as many greens as I wanted to and my put­ter never re­ally con­nected for me to­day.”

If there was any doubt about Park be­ing able to ad­vance, it was erased when she fin­ished her round with an ace on the 162-yard 9th hole.

“The 6-iron was per­fect and I was feel­ing good about it,” Park re­called. “I saw it land on the green and it just kept rolling with the slope. Then I saw it go in, and I just heard screams.

“I was in shock, so I didn’t re­ally do any­thing. I saw my Dad (Young Park) yelling, but it didn’t process un­til a minute or two later.”

Just a fresh­man, Scully won the Ches-Mont crown a week ear­lier and was able to over­come a first round 82. Gim­pel edged Penns­bury’s Jade Gu in a play­off for the eighth and fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing spot. Dis­trict 1 Girls Golf Cham­pi­onship Par-72 at Tur­tle Creek GC Class 3A: 1. Yao (Con­estoga) 74-71–145; 2. McCook (Down­ing­town East) 76-78– 154; 2. Man­cuso (C.B. East) 75-79–154; 4. Park (Wis­sahickon) 79-76–155; 5. Palmieri (CB South) 76-80–156; 6. Scully (Unionville) 82-77–159; 7. Ju­liana (Great Val­ley) 80-80–160; 8. Gim­pel (Mt. St. Joseph) 80-81–161. Class 2A: 1. Brooke Sander (Villa Maria) 98-97 –195.

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