June 26, 2014
Trailing by three holes through only the first eight, 12-year-old Concord resident Yealimi Noh began to have doubts. A suddenly hot putter changed everything.
Noh erased the 3-up deficit and went on to sink an 11-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of the Dunes Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, defeating Rocklin’s Camille Wagg 1-up in Thursday’s finals of the California Junior Girls’ State Championship.
With the victory, Noh joins Christina Kim and Dorothy Delasin as former winners of the event. She also is the first medalist and champion of the event since Carly Childs in 2011.
“It feels really good. I didn’t think I’d make it this far,” said Noh, who attends Valley View Middle School in Pleasant Hill. “I just wanted to finish better than last year.”
Early on, it was a completely different tune. Already holding a 1-up lead, on the par-3 7th, Wagg, who’s headed to UC Irvine in the fall, took a 2-up lead when Noh’s tee shot bounded over the green leading to a bogey.
Just a hole later on the 8th, Noh could only watch as Wagg sank a 12-footer for birdie to make it 3-up.
“I couldn’t make any putts,” said Noh, who lost in the quarterfinals last year. “I started thinking, ‘I can’t do this.'”
Then, the 11th and 12th holes happened. On the 11th, Noh won with a par after Wagg’s 2-foot putt for par somehow lipped out. A hole later on No.12, Noh stuck her approach shot to within two feet of the pin for an easy birdie. Wagg’s missed her putt, and suddenly the lead was just 1-up.
“That shot on No.12 helped me a ton. I thought it had gone into the bunker,” Noh said. “When we got up to the green I had to double check to see if it was my ball. I didn’t think it was.”
On the flipside, Wagg could feel all of her momentum slipping away.
“Those putts on No. 11 and No.12 hurt,” said Wagg, who earned Sierra Foothill League MVP honors in her senior season at Rocklin High. “After that, I really couldn’t get anything going.”
With another birdie putt on the majestic par-3 14th, Noh brought the match back to all-square. But Wagg wasn’t completely out of gas.
On the par-4 16th, Wagg retook a 1-up lead when, after both players missed the green with their second shots, Noh mishit her chip shot and remained off the green, leading to a double-bogey.
From there though, it was all about Noh’s putter. On the 17th, Noh drained a 6-footer for birdie to again make the match all-square. Shortly after on the par-5 18th, Wagg’s lengthy birdie putt stopped a foot short of the cup. Noh, meanwhile, calmly sank a quick, 13-foot downhill putt for birdie.
In the morning semifinals, Noh faced almost the exact same putt on the 17th and made it.
On the 18th, Noh may have been the most surprised to see her ball fall in.
“Oh my gosh! At first I was looking at the line from behind the hole. I got a good read but when I went back to my ball it looked completely different,” Noh said. “I figured just try. At the worst we both make par and go to another hole.”
Instead, Noh headed off to celebrate. Her destination? Anywhere that sold Percy Jackson comic books.
“I was actually thinking about that when I was out on the course,” said Noh with a grin. “I hope my mom will get me some.”
n the morning semifinals, Noh moved on with a 2 and 1 win over No.12 Kimberly Liu of Dublin, while Wagg defeated No.14 Katherine Zhu of San Jose, 5 and 4.
Bidding for the upset, Liu took a 2-up lead over Noh with a birdie on the scenic par-3 7th. From there, however, Noh took over.
Noh went on to win holes No.8 through No.11 with three pars and a birdie to quickly turn things around and forge her own 2-up lead. Liu cut the deficit back to 1-up with a par on the 14th, but the two then halved No.15 and No.16. On the 17th, Noh sealed the victory and punched her ticket to the final by rolling in a birdie putt.
The other semifinal saw Wagg take control early and never let up. Following back-to-back birdies on No.3 and No.4, Wagg went 2-up. A pair of pars on No.6 and No.8 and two Zhu bogeys later, and Wagg’s lead had mushroomed to 4-up. Later, Wagg birdied the 11th and parred the 12th to make it 6-up.
In the Helen Lengfeld Flight, No.3 seed Ty Akabane knocked off No.9 Kelsey Kawaguchi of Los Altos, 2 and 1.
June 25, 2014
The brackets got all shaken up, but the No.1 seed emerged unscathed.
On what a busy day on the Dunes Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, four players advanced to Thursday’s semifinals of the annual California State Junior Girls’ Championship.
No.1 seed Yealimi Noh of Concord was one of the players moving on, courtesy of a 2-up win over No.25 Sydney Babiak in the afternoon quarterfinals. All-square after eight holes, Noh took her first lead with a par on the par-5 9th. Another par on the 12 put Noh 2-up, but Babiak didn’t give in. From holes No.13 through No.16, Babiak picked up two wins, cutting the deficit to 1-up.
After halving the 17th, Noh finally got the victory when Babiak bogeyed the 18th.
Also advancing to the semis was No. 12 seed KimberlyLiu of Dublin, who upset No.4 seed Samantha Hutchison of San Jose, 1-up. In what was a match of two different nines, Liu jumped out to a 2-up lead through five. On the back-nine, however, it was Hutchison’s turn, as she forged a 2-up lead with a par on the 12th.
Hutchison’s lead didn’t last, as Liu won both holes No.15 and No.16 to make it all-square. The pair halved the 17th, and on No.18 Hutchison made a bogey.
Hutchison wasn’t the only top seed to fall victim to an upset. In another quarterfinal, No.7 Camille Wagg of Rocklin knocked out No.2 seed Christine Kim of San Jose, 3 and 2. Wagg took the lead with a par on No.2 and held the lead for good from there.
The last quarterfinals match of the day saw No.14 Katherine Zhu of San Jose defeat No.11 Jade Siphomsay, 2 and 1.
In the morning Round of 16, three of the top four seeds advanced.
Noh knocked off No.16 Samantha Gong of San Francisco with a win on the 19th hole. Noh got a 2-up lead with a par on the par-3 10th, but Gong came storming back with birdies on the 11th and 16th to bring the match back to all-square. On the 19th hole (No.1), Noh made par while Gong had a bogey.
Hutchison, the No.4 seed, had a hard time shaking off No.13 seed Quynn Duong of San Jose. Duong took a 2-up lead through just four holes following a Hutchison bogey. But Hutchison responded, winning five of the next seven holes to build a commanding 3-up lead. Hutchison went on to win, 3 and 2.
In a tight one, Kim slipped by No.18 Courtney Vogel of Sacramento, 3 and 2. Thanks in part to two birdies, Kim built a 3-up lead through eight. Vogel won the 9th with a birdie to make it 2-up, but she then bogeyed the 10th to again fall three down. The pair halved their final six holes.
The big upset in the Round of 16 was Zhu eliminating No.3 seeded Nancy Xu of Sunnyvale. Already holding a 1-up lead, Zhu won holes No.7 through No.9 to build a commanding 4-up lead. A Xu bogey on the 16th sealed a 4 and 2 victory for Zhu.
In the Starlets competition (ages 9-12), Doodle Yuen went wire-to-wire shooting a final round 3-over 40 on the Dunes Course back-nine to win by six strokes. Yuen’s total in the three-day, 27-hole event (9 holes each day) was 4-over 115.
Placing second at 10-over 121 was Elizabeth Lu. Caris Kim placed third at 124 following a final round 38.
Thursday’s semifinals will begin at 8 a.m., followed by the 18-hole final at 1 p.m.
June 24, 2104
Each of the top four seeds moved on to the Round of 16 as match play began Tuesday at the annual California Junior Girls’ State Championship on the Dunes Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
No.1 seed Yealimi Noh of Concord advanced with a 5 and 3 win over No.32 Sophia Stetson of Moraga. Bidding for the upset, Stetson actually held a 1-up lead through the first eight holes. But Noh came storming back, winning six of the next seven holes to close out the match.
No.2 seed Christine Kim of San Jose also had to come from behind. No.31 seed Nicole Foster of Los Gatos jumped out to a 1-up after Kim triple-bogeyed the par-3 4th. Kim didn’t take the lead until a par on the 8th, but from there it was all Kim. Kim won the 11th and holes No.14 through No.16 to emerge with a 4 and 2 victory.
Nancy Xu of Sunnyvale, the No.3 seed, moved on with a 5 and 4 win over No.30 Ashley Pan of Moraga. Xu went 5-up through seven and never let Pan back in it.
No.4 seeded Samantha Hutchison of San Jose found herself in a tight match against No.29 seed Aishvarya Bedi of San Jose that went the full 18 holes. The two Junior Tour of Northern California players see-sawed throughout the round, with neither ever holding more than a 2-up lead.
Holding a 1-up lead, on the 18th Hutchison made par to win, 2-up.
Wednesday’s championship action will consist of both the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals. Thursday’s play will feature the semifinals in the morning and the 18-hole finale in the afternoon.
In the Starlets competition (ages 9-12), Doodle Yuen shot a 1-over 38 on the Dunes Course back-nine to maintain a one-stroke lead heading into Wednesday’s final round. Yuen had eight pars with a bogey on the 18th for an 18-hole total of 75.
Elizabeth Yu is in second place at 80 following a second round 39. Madelyn Gamble is alone in third place at 82 after a 42. Starlets play consists of 27 holes, nine played each day.
June 23, 2014
There was a pair of medalists in Monday’s stroke play qualifying round for this week’s annual California Junior Girls State Championship on the par-73 Dunes Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
Concord resident Yealimi Noh and San Jose resident Christine Kim each came in with rounds of 1-over 74. Noh will be the No.1 seed for match play, while Kim will be the No.2 seed.
Noh, who has had a stellar season on the Junior Tour of Northern California, had four birdies (including back-to-back on holes No.17 and No.18) to go with three bogeys and a double-bogey. Kim had two birdies with three bogeys.
Finishing stroke play in a tie for third at 75 was three players—San Jose’s Samantha Hutchison, Sunnyvale’s Nancy Xu and Chloe Corriveau of Pebble Beach.
Xu is the No.3 seed for match play, Hutchison is No.4 and Corriveau is seeded No.5
Two-time defending champion Kathleeen Scavo of Benicia, who competed at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, is not in the field.
Tuesday’s action will consist of the first round of match play. On Wednesday, both the Round of 16 and quarterfinals will be held, followed by the semifinals and final on Thursday.
Former winners of the event include Dorothy Delasin and Christina Kim.
In Starlets play (ages 9-12), Doodle Yuen took the first round lead with an even par 37 on the Dunes Course back-nine that included birdies on holes No.11 and No.15.
Madelyn Gamble is in second, three strokes back of Yuen, after an opening 40. Three players–Caris Kim, Elizabeth Yu and Megan Chou–are tied for third after rounds of 41.
Starlets play consists of three days of stroke play, 27 holes total.