June 28, 2019
Until this week, Abigail Leighton had never competed in a match-play format event. Based on her performance at the annual California Junior Girls’ Championship at Quail Lodge & Golf Course, she is a natural.
Leighton, from Santa Rosa, looked dominant in the final match against No. 1 seed Jacqueline Lucena of Chico. Playing as the No. 18 seed after qualifying rounds of 77-78, Leighton looked nervy early with bogeys on the opening two holes to go 1-down to Lucena. She quickly found her comfort zone though, rattling off three birdies in a row at four, five and six to establish a quick 2-up lead. Those holes ended up being the difference maker, with Leighton holding on to the lead for the remainder of the match.
Lucena did not go down without a fight though. After making the turn at 2-down, Lucena stuck her approach shot on the tenth to eight feet, setting up a birdie to take the hole. Leighton countered right back with her own birdie at the eleventh when her approach shot finished six feet from the hole. Lucena again battled back with a birdie on the fourteenth to go 1-down, but Leighton again answered with a par win on the sixteenth to go 2-up. With only two holes remaining and needing a win to extend the match, Lucena hit a laser-like iron on the par-3 seventeenth and converted her six-foot birdie putt. On the eighteenth, both players missed the green left with their approach shots. Leighton, needing only a tie to win the match, was able to convert her five-foot par-saving putt to take the title by a 2-up margin.
June 27, 2019
The final match is set, No. 1 seed Jacqueline Lucena will face No. 18 seed Abigail Leighton for the title at the annual California Junior Girls’ State Championship.
Lucena, who hails from Chico, started her day by advancing in the battle of the medalists against No. 6 seed and 2018 medalist Madelyn Gamble. Lucena was down early after Gamble made birdie on the opener. Gamble maintained her lead on ten of the first twelve holes, but Lucena held steady by carding pars on the first eight holes, with a birdie on No. 9. Lucena would not hold a lead until hole No. 14, when back-to-back par winners gave her a 1-up advantage. Lucena then closed with steady pars on the final three holes to take a 2 & 1 margin.
In the afternoon, Lucena faced the bracket underdog No. 28 seed Madison Pineda. Other than a bogey halve on the first, Lucena was flawless on the front nine, making the turn in 3-up with eight consecutive pars. Pars on 10, 11 and 12 extended the lead to 5-up, with Lucena eventually closing out the match with a par on No. 14 for a 4 & 3 victory.
On the bottom half of the bracket, Abigail Leighton, of Santa Rosa, looks to continue her march through the higher seeds. Having defeated the No. 15 and No. 2 seed on day one of match play, Leighton opened with a quarterfinal match against No. 7 seed Carissa Wu. Leighton was the only player to hold a lead in the match, but was never able to extend it beyond 2-up. That is where the match stood though twelve holes. With her back against the wall, Wu played the final six holes of regulation in 2-under, making birdie on holes fifteen and eighteen to force a playoff. When it mattered though, Leighton answered with a birdie on the nineteenth hole to win 1-up.
With her win in the quarterfinals, Leighton faced an afternoon semifinal match against the No. 3 seed Andrea Gomez. This time, it was Leighton who had to fight from behind. Gomez won the first hole with a par and never trailed until the final hole of the match. Sitting 3-down with five holes remaining, Leighton won three consecutive holes to square up the match. Standing on the eighteenth tee all square, both players made birdie to force extra holes. Leighton, playing the par 5 first hole for the fourth time on the day, came through in the clutch again, carding an eagle to close out Gomez in nineteen holes. Leighton played her final six holes in 5-under par to come from behind and punch her ticket to the final.
The championship match will take place Friday morning at Quail Lodge & Golf Course, with the eighteen hole finale slated for 7:30 am.
June 26, 2019
After a full day of golf, we are down to eight players left at the annual California Junior Girls’ State Championship at Quail Lodge & Golf Course.
Despite several upsets, five of the top ten seeded players remain after the round of 32 and 16. The No. 1 seed, Jacqueline Lucena, cruised to a 4 & 3 victory in her morning match against No. 32 seed Sophie Thai. In the afternoon, Lucena faced no. 16 seed Priya Bakshi. Bakshi made birdie on the first to quickly set the tone for the match. She would keep the lead for all but one hole on the front nine before the match moved to all square on No. 11. Lucena followed up with another par winner on no. 13 to take a 1-up advantage and extended the lead to 2-up with a par on 16. With her back against the wall, Bakshi made clutch pars on Nos. 17 and 18 to force extra holes. It was Lucena who had the last strike though, making an eagle three on the par-5 first hole to win 1-up.
Lucena, this years medalist, looks to have another tough match tomorrow morning when she will face No. 8 seed Madelyn Gamble, the 2018 medalist at this event. The other top-seeded players moving on to the quarterfinals include no. 3 seed Andrea Gomez, No. 6 seed Gianna Inguagiato and No. 7 seed Carissa Wu.
There are several underdogs moving through to the next round of match play. No. 18 seed, Abigail Leighton, took down the No. 15 seed, Ellie Sand, in her morning match by a 2 & 1 margin. Leighton then followed up in the afternoon match against no. 2 seed Caroline Wales, taking a 4 & 2 upset.
No. 28 seed Madison Pineda comfortably won her morning match 5 & 4 against No. 5 seed Emily Hou. Pineda then fought for a 1-up win in 19 holes against No. 12 seed Vanessa Richani. Meanwhile, the no. 29 seed Claire Chen gritted out a 20-hole win against No. 4 seed Hannah Harrison. In the afternoon, Chen defeated No. 20 seed Aishvarya Bedi by a 7 & 6 margin. Pineda and Chen will face off tomorrow morning.
The quarterfinal round of match play continues tomorrow with the first match teeing off at 7:30 am Thursday at Quail Lodge, followed by the semifinal matches in the afternoon.
June 25, 2019
June 24, 2019
Sydney Sung of Palo Alto took the early advantage in pursuit of medalist honors at the annual California Junior Girls’ State Championship Monday at Quail Lodge & Golf Course in Carmel.
Sung shot a 3-under 69 in the first round of stroke play qualifying. Her round was highlighted by three birdies and one eagle, along with two bogeys on the 6,145 yard par-72 course.
Chasing Sung in a tie for second place are Caroline Wales and Danielle Suh after their 1-under rounds of 71. Wales, from La Quinta, had three birdies and two bogeys on the day. Suh, who is from San Ramon, carded four birdies and three bogeys.
Tied for fourth place at even-par 72 are Jacqueline Lucena and Carissa Wu. Last year’s medalist, Madelyn Gamble, shot a four-over 76 and is tied for twelfth place.
This years’ championship features a new format in which the 84-person field will complete over 36-holes of stroke play qualifying. The top 32 players will then advance to a single elimination match play bracket. Play continues Tuesday at Quail Lodge, with both medalist honors and match play qualifying to be determined by days end.
In the Starlets division, Joyce Zhang took the first round lead with a 9-over 44. Armani Starke is in second place at 12-over and Gianna Singh in third place at 13-over.
June 18, 2019
The California Junior Girls’ State Championship was the first of its kind on the West Coast. It began in 1950 at Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey. In 1974, the tournament was moved to Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach. The 2019 championship will be held at Quail Lodge Resort in Carmel Valley.
Yealimi Noh, who has since turned professional, won the 2018 event a week prior to winning the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. Former champions include Dorothy Delasin (1998), Christina Kim (2000) and Jamille Jose (1990).