Given the suspension of athletics in the county, the Daily Journal decided to dive into our 20-year archives to bring readers some of our favorite stories over the years.
OCT. 28, 2015 — There was a lot going on during the Peninsula Athletic League girls’ golf championship at Poplar Creek Tuesday afternoon.
Not only was the league’s individual champion to be crowned, as well as potential at-large bids to the Central Coast Section tournament, but it was also used as a tiebreaker to decide the PAL’s automatic berth into CCS after Aragon and Menlo-Atherton finished the regular season with 8-2 records.
The biggest development, however, was the absence of three-time defending champion Aman Sangha of San Mateo and arguably the second-best player in the league in her younger sister Kiran Sangha.
“The have, basically, been focusing on their grades,” said San Mateo coach Jimmy Ikeda. “The emphasis is more on education at this point. I hope to get them back for next year.”
Even if the Sanghas were in the field, they would have needed to be on top of their game because Aragon’s Tessa Ulrich certainly was. A three-year varsity player, Ulrich fired a 1-under 70 to take home the championship, finishing two shots ahead of Menlo-Atherton’s Naomi Lee, who shot a 1-over 72. Lee’s teammate, Abbey Pederson, finished third with a 4-over 75.
“I did a lot better than I was originally thinking. I was really nervous going in,” said Ulrich, a junior. “My goal was a 77 — that’s my best score. I was thinking 77 to 80, somewhere in that range. The fact I played as well as I did was surprising.”
While Ulrich won the individual honors — as well a spot in the CCS tournament — it wasn’t enough to prevent Menlo-Atherton from earning the PAL’s automatic team bid. The Bears’ quintet of scorers — Lee, Pederson, Christiana Park, Greta Sten and Taylor Waddell — combined to shoot a 441, easily out-distancing Aragon (476).
“We went from being kind of discombobulated to really … getting everyone to concentrate and focus on winning league,” Pederson said. “We matured as a team (throughout the season).”
Pederson said it was a little more satisfying beating Aragon in the tournament after winning the dual meet during the regular season — only to be disqualified after one of the Bears used a range finder.
“We won by 35 shots,” Pederson said.
Aragon still has a chance to receive an at-large berth to CCS, but that would simply be icing on the cake for Aragon coach Guy Oling.
“I was very pleased with our season after losing four starters from last year’s championship team,” Oling said. “Being in the top three (in the PAL) would have been satisfactory. Top to bottom, we’ve improved, too.”
Pederson was a little chapped about her performance, however.
“I left a lot of shots out there,” Pederson said.
Shots that would have made a difference against Ulrich, who played steady golf throughout. She finished with 11 pars, four birdies and three bogeys.
“I didn’t have any doubles (bogeys). I didn’t have any blow-up holes,” Ulrich said.
Ulrich, who played in the No. 3 slot on the Dons’ PAL championship last season, moved into the No. 1 slot for 2015 and proved, throughout the season, she was a bona fide No. 1 as she came into the tournament as, essentially, the third seed.
Ulrich got off to a quick start, making birdie on the first hole, but bogeyed the second hole. She stabilized after that, parring the next three holes. She picked up her second birdie on No. 6, but gave it back with a bogey on No. 7, after chunking a shot out of a bunker. She recovered and went par-par to close out her front nine with an even-par 35.
Ulrich got off to a hot start on the back nine, going birdie-par-birdie on holes 10, 11 and 12. She parred 13, bogeyed 14 and finished out her round with four straight pars for a 1-under 34 over the final nine holes to hold off Lee.
“I shot 35 on the back with my dad Saturday, but I had never shot that well on the back (like I did Tuesday),” Ulrich said.
Ulrich said she noticed right away that the Sangha sisters were not in the field and she admitted it did change the dynamic of the tournament, but not the way she maneuvered around the course.
“They’re two very strong players. … They are missed,” Ulrich said. “But the one thing with golf … it’s you against the course. You’re not playing an opponent.”
Ulrich, Lee and Pederson, along with Carlmont’s Helen Ye — who despite shooting a 76 was not eligible to win the PAL tournament because the Scots do not field a full team — were the only golfers to shoot rounds in the 70s. Fourth place went to South City freshman Catherine Batang, who shot a 81. Fifth place was a surprise as Sequoia’s Mady Fitzgerald, playing in the second-to-last group of the day, came home with an 84. Sixth place went to Aragon’s Emily Paras, who finished with an 85. M-A’s Park and Burlingame’s Meagan McEnry both finished with 88s to tie for seventh. Christina Monisteri, also of Burlingame, finished ninth with an 89. San Mateo’s Tiffany Tang and Lynn Sasaki both finished with 90s, but it was Tang who secured the final medalist position in the top-10, based on a tiebreaker — Tang shot a 45 on the back 9, Sasaki a 47.
There is a chance other players could receive an at-large bid to CCS, but that won’t be decided until all the other leagues in CCS finish their league championships. Ikeda said leagues won’t know for sure if anyone else qualified until later in the week. The CCS tournament is played at Rancho Cañada Golf Club, East Course, in Carmel.