Deuces were wild in 2013 for San Mateo High School golfer Aman Sangha.
For the second straight year, the sophomore won the Peninsula Athletic League title, finished in the top-10 at the Central Coast Section tournament, and qualified for the Northern California and state championships. Last week, she won the San Mateo County championship for the second year in a row.
And just to keep the “two” theme going, she is also the San Mateo Daily Journal’s Girls Golfer of the Year for the second year in a row.
And for the cherry on top, she recorded the first hole-in-one of her career, acing the 152- yard, par-3 fifth hole with a six iron.
“She has a passion for the game,” said San Mateo coach Jimmy Ikeda. “She loves to practice. It’s school and golf right now. She just works hard at the game. You’re going to see her at the golf course, the driving range, at least six days a week.”
Sangha was the top seed going into the PAL tournament, shooting in the 35 to 38 range during the regular season. In the championship, she shot a 3-over 74 to hold off Aragon’s Valerie Chen by a shot.
Sangha fired a 1-over 71 at the CCS championship, finishing two shots off the pace, but good enough to qualify for the Nor Cal championship. Sangha got off to a slow start in both the Nor Cal and state championships, but rebounded to earn a tie for fourth at Nor Cals and a tie for 13th at state.
It was her performance at state that Ikeda saw how much Sangha had improved since her freshman year.
“At the state championship, she double bogeyed the first hole and I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Ikeda said. “Last year at state, she double bogeyed the first hole and she cracked up.
“I think she’s much more confident (this year). Most player might have cracked after a double bogey on the first hole, but she rallied.”
So what is separating Sangha from even greater heights? Ikeda said it’s all between the ears.
“At that level, it’s a mental game at that point,” Ikeda said. “Mentally, she plays it shot by shot. She doesn’t get upset if she hits a bad shot. She just goes to the next hole and plays on.”
Sangha has the physical talent, but all the top players have that. It’s the ability to focus and execute a shot 60 to 70 times during a round that is the difference between first and fifth.
“She’s gotten a little bigger so she’s hitting the ball a little farther. … It’s just fine-tuning (her game) at this point,” Ikeda said. “Her short game needs to be a little sharper. If her putting improves, that’s where she’s going to make up strokes.”
Playing against top-flight competition has definitely honed Sangha’s game and Ikeda is hoping that with a little more pressure, Sangha will take that next step in the evolution of her game.
That little nudge could come from little sister Kiran. Only an eighth grader, Kiran Sangha held a one-stroke lead over her older sister heading into the second and final round of the San Mateo County championship. Aman Sangha responded with her best round of the tournament, shooting a 1-over 73 to win the championship.
“What’s going to be interesting … is her sister is coming up,” Ikeda said. “She’s going to push [Aman] a little more. With pushing, hopefully she’ll take it to the next level.
“[Kiran] wants to beat her. I think it’s a healthy rivalry.”
Don’t expect the elder Sangha not to push back, however. Having watched her throughout the high school season and serving as her caddie at the county championship, Ikeda is simply impressed with Aman Sangha’s game and attitude.
“She is just a pleasure to watch,” Ikeda said. “As a coach, she’s just one of those special athletes who love what they’re doing and you don’t find that much any more.”