Monterey Peninsula Country Club
June 21-25, 2021
*Pairings will be posted one week before the championship*
June 25, 2021
Just moments before being presented the trophy, 15-year-old San Jose resident Kiara Romero took a few minutes to savor the moment with her mom and dad, Maricel and Rick, and her older sister,Kaleiya.
“It means so much to me to have my family here,” Romero said. “It makes it that much more fun and exciting.”
Still just a high school sophomore, Romero gave them all something to remember, as she’d go on to defeat Anika Varma, 3 and 2, to win the 71st California Junior Girls’State Championship on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. With the win, Romero, the 2020 Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year, joins an illustrious list of champions including Jamille Jose (1990), Christina Kim (2000) and two-time winner Yealimi Noh (2014, 2018).
“A lot of the past champions are people I look up to. I’m honored to have my name with them,” Romero said. “I’ve been working very hard on my game, so this feels great. It’s the biggest win I’ve had so far.”
The No.1 seed, Romero had to use every part of her game to hold off Varma. While Romero took an early 2-up lead through just the first four holes, Varma responded with back-to-back birdies on holes 5 and 6 to re-tie the match. The two stayed tied until the par-5 10th hole, where Romero made eagle after reaching the green in two and draining a 12-footer. Three holes later on the par-4 13th, Romero’s lead grew to 2-up when Varma missed the fairway right and found herself in a waste bunker. While Varma’s second shot out of the bunker hit the green, it would keep rolling into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey. Romero, meanwhile, got on and two-putted for par.
“I knew coming in that I had to be on top of my game,” said Varma, who was the No.1 ranked amateur female in India prior to relocating to the U.S. two years ago. “I made some saves today, but in the finals making saves isn’t enough. I needed to be making birdies and pars.”
Still down two holes heading to the 14th tee, it looked like Varma would catch a break when Romero’s tee shot landed short of the green on the par-3 hole. Varma would knock her own tee shot to within about 15 feet of the flagstick, and it appeared she’d have a chance to cut the lead to 1-up with four holes to go. But Romero pitched up on the green and proceeded to sink her 20-foot par putt, halting any potential momentum swing in Varma’s favor.
“That putt was so big for me,” said Romero with a smile. “If I miss it, my lead is only one. It felt so good when I saw it drop in.”
Just a hole later on the par-5 15th, Varma’s door of opportunity closed more when her approach shot bounded through the green, eventually leading to another bogey. The two halved No.16, giving Romero the win.
“I tried my best,” said Varma, a 17-year-old senior at Granite Bay High who has already verbally committed to the University of Oregon. “It could’ve been better. But you always take the positives and just keep moving forward.”
For Romero, the win finally gave her a chance to relax. She had commuted each day to the course, and was pining for what she called “a 10-hour sleep.”
“It’s a lot of golf. It’s a long week,” Romero said. “Match play requires a lot of thinking too. Half of it with match play is the mental game. This is a win I’ll always remember.”
2021 California Junior Girls’ State champion Kiara Romero lets it fly pic.twitter.com/SFPLzeSVEX
— NCGA (@ncga1901) June 25, 2021
June 24, 2021
It’ll be one of the best junior players in Northern California against one of the best players from New Delhi.
Kiara Romero, who earned 2020 Player of the Year honors on the Junior Tour of Northern California, and Anika Varma, the former No.1 ranked female amateur in India, will meet in Friday’s 18-hole final of this week’s annual California Junior Girls’ State Championship on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
Romero, a 15-year-old sophomore from San Jose and the No.1, advanced with a 3 and 2 semifinals win over No.4 Kaylyn Noh, while Varma punched her ticket to the finals with a 3 and 2 win of her own over No.2 seed Ellie Bushnell.
“I’m super excited to have reached the finals,” said Romero, who earlier in the day won her quarterfinals match, 5 and 4. “It feels really good. Kaylyn really kept me on my toes those last few holes.”
Through 12 holes, Romero built a commanding 4-up lead. But Noh, who’s headed to Cal Pol-San Luis Obispo this fall, didn’t give up. With wins on the 14th and 15th holes, Noh got the deficit back to only 2-down with three to play. But Romero won the par-5 16th after reaching the green in two to put things away. Noh’s drive landed in a fairway bunker, and she could only advance her ball out a few yards.
While Romero isn’t exactly used to competing in match play, she says she’s learned as she’s gone along. “If I see my opponent is in trouble, I’ll just try to get an easy par,” Romero said.
For Romero, the week has been an endurance test as well. She and her mom and dad have commuted down to MPCC from the Bay Area each day.
“I’m pretty tired. I could use a 10-hour sleep,” she said.
On the other side, Varma only moved to the States two years ago. The 17-year-old senior to be at Granite Bay High felt that she’d have more opportunities here.
“I wanted to get out of my comfort zone,” Varma said. “And I wanted more chances to improve my game.”
Having already verbally committed to the University of Oregon, Varma picked up the game via her dad and older sister, Aansha, who is 23.
“I used to just sit in the cart and watch them while they played. Then I started playing around the age of six,” Varma said.
In her match against Bushnell, Varma looked to be in trouble, as she’d fall 2-down right out the gate with losses on the first two holes. But by the time the two made the turn, Varma was 1-up. Following a birdie win on No.10 and a par win on No.11, Varma’s lead grew to 3-up. Another birdie later on the par-5 16th sealed the victory.
“The whole week, I’ve just been playing my game, just thinking of each shot,” Varma said. “I’ve played at St. Andrews, so when the wind picks up it doesn’t bother me.”
Friday’s 18-hole finale will tee off at 8 a.m.
One of the scenes from today’s semifinals of the California Junior Girls’ State Championship on the Shore Course at MPCC pic.twitter.com/evdrgG0iD8
— NCGA (@ncga1901) June 25, 2021
June 23, 2021
Kiara Romero and Ellie Bushnell, the No. 1 and No.2 seeds respectively, each got off to a great start as match play opened at this week’s annual California Junior Girls’ State Championship on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
Romero, the 2020 Player of the Year on the Junior Tour of Northern California, opened with a solid 8 and 7 victory in the morning Round of 32. Later in the afternoon, Romero knocked out No. 17 seed Amelia Garibaldi, 4 and 3. In her Round of 32 win, Romero shot a front-nine 3-under par 32. In her match against Garibaldi, Romero carded three birdies, including the clincher on the scenic par-3 14th.
A Youth on Course member, Bushnell also won big early, winning her Round of 32 match, 7 and 6, thanks to a trio of birdies. Later, she’d dispatch No. 18 Aishvarya Bedi, 5 and 3.
No.3 seed Anika Varma opened with a solid 3 and 2 victory, and later held on to defeat Skyler May on the 21st hole.
Kaylyn Noh, the No.4 seed and a member of the SCGA Junior Tour, won her two matches, 4 and 3 and 3 and 2.
In Thursday’s quarterfinals, Romero will take on No.24 Abigail Lin. Lin, the highest seed left in the brackets, took out both the No.8 and No.9 seeds. Bushnell will face No.7 seed Hannah Harrison of Granite Bay GC.
Thursday’s action will also feature the semifinals. The 18-hole final will be held Friday.
The Round of 32 is underway at this week’s California Junior Girls’ State Championship on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula CC pic.twitter.com/TQz8eZ3oNL
— NCGA (@ncga1901) June 23, 2021
Jasmine Kahler had the shot of the day, acing the 136-yard 3rd hole during the Round of 32.
June 22, 2021
Ellie Bushnell and Kiara Romero, a pair of Youth on Course members, shared medalist honors as this week’s annual California Junior Girls’ State Championship at Monterey Peninsula Country Club headed towards match play.
Bushnell and Romero, also both Junior Tour of Northern California products, came in at 6-over 150 in stroke play qualifying after second-round scores of 76 and 73, respectively. Romero, the JTNC Player of the Year in 2020, made a move early, carding four birdies over her first six holes.
Finishing third in stroke play qualifying was Anika Varma at 152 after her second straight 76.
In Wednesday’s Round of 32, the No. 2 seeded Bushnell will open vs.No.31 Annika Cruz, while Romero, the No.1 seed, will take on No.32 Brooke Barron.Varma, the No.3 seed, will face No.30 Sydney Sung and No.4 seed Kaylyn Noh will face No.29 Lauren Sung.
Following the Round of 32, the Round of 16 will be held. Thursday’s play will consist of the quarterfinals and semifinals with the 18-hole final to be contested on Friday.
The cutline to reach match play came at 21-over 165.
Armani Starke won the Starlets division (ages 9-12), posting a second-round 41 to come in at 83. The Starlets play 9 hole rounds twice.
June 21, 2021
Blustery conditions didn’t stop Ellie Bushnell or Skyler May from turning in solid scores at this week’s annual California Junior Girls’ State Championship at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
Playing the Shore Course, Bushnell and May both opened stroke play qualifying with identical scores of 2-over par 74. May, playing out of EClub Central Valley, had a pair of birdies to offset just four bogeys. Bushnell, a Youth on Course member, posted three birdies to go against five bogeys.
Just a shot back at 75 is SoCal’s Jasmine Kahler. Three players—Anika Varma, Katherine Sung and Caris—are T-4 at 76.
Following Tuesday’s second round of stroke play qualifying, a cut will be made with the low 32 advancing to match play. Wednesday’s play will consist of the Rounds of 32 and 16, with Thursday’s action featuring the quarterfinals and semifinals. The 18-hole final will tee off at 8 a.m. on Friday.
In the Starlets division (ages 9-12), Augusta BeiBei Chan leads with an opening round score of 2-over 39. The Starlets play 18 holes, 9 each day.
Past winners of the championship include current LPGA Tour member Yealimi Noh (2014, 2018) and former U.S. Women’s Amateur champ Hannah O’Sullivan (2010).
Sponsored by the Committee for the California Women’s Amateur Championships (CWAC)
Helen Lengfeld, Founder
36 holes of stroke qualifying, 18 holes a day, low 32 players will advance to single-elimination match play. A tie for the last qualifier‘s place will be decided immediately after play on Tuesday, June 22 with a hole-by-hole play-off.