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Carlsbad rolls to CIF D-1 girls golf title, Torrey Pines second

Individual champion Meghan Royal led Carlsbad to the CIF D-I team title.
Individual champion Meghan Royal led Carlsbad to the CIF D-I team title.
(Ken Grosse)

A season after having to drop out of the tournament as the favorite, the Carlsbad girls golf team put four players in the top 13 and overpowered a first-rate field to capture the 2021 CIF Division I Championship Thursday, Nov. 4, at La Costa Resort.

The Lancers, led by senior Meghan Royal, the individual champion, finished with a 36-hole total of 772 (+47), 34 strokes ahead of two-time defending champion Torrey Pines. Rancho Bernardo was third, followed by Canyon Crest Academy and El Camino.

“It’s awesome, the best feeling ever,” said second-year Head Coach Brook Brand, who saw health issues knock her team from this event last spring. “There was pressure for sure, but we just tried to emphasize playing our own game and not worrying about everything going on around us. We got out to a good lead and were able to finish it.”

Junior Emily Zhou was the No. 2 finisher for runner-up Torrey Pines.
Junior Emily Zhou was the No. 2 finisher for runner-up Torrey Pines.
(Ken Grosse)

The quartet of Royal (64-73—137/1st), junior Andee Avery (74-72—146/T5), junior Jasmine Kahler (75-76—151/10th) and senior Tiffany Lin (74-80—154/T13) played lights out in round one at Bernardo Heights Country Club, staking Carlsbad to a 17-stroke lead that would never be threatened.

Fog caused a one-hour rain delay in round one but it was Royal that was the real force of nature over that first 18. She carded nine birdies on the day, including six on the front nine after starting at No. 10 and making the turn at two-under. With an even par in Thursday’s tougher conditions (teammate Avery’s one-under was one of just two sub-par scores), the Arkansas-bound Royal wound up five strokes clear of runner-up Jasmine Leovao of El Camino. She temporarily flirted with the all-time CIF record of 10-under par for the championship, shared by Sandy Choi (Torrey Pines) and Rachel Morris (Carlsbad).

El Camino's Janae Leovao and her sister Jasmine were both in the top seven.
El Camino’s Janae Leovao and her sister Jasmine were both in the top seven.
(Ken Grosse)

“This was one I’m very proud of,” said Royal, who was third in last season’s CIF event. “Playing high school golf for four years, there were a lot of ups-and-downs—to end with both the individual and team championships is so cool. The feeling is actually kind of liberating.

“I’m so proud of my teammates as well. After last year, a lot of people said we couldn’t do it but the hard work definitely paid off. It feels so rewarding.” Count her coach as one of her biggest admirers.

“I’m so excited for her, what a way to end her high school career,” said a happy Brand. “She put so much into this team for four years, she’s so deserving. I can’t really put it into words.

“There’s always talk about how long she is off the tee but she is one of the most mentally-focused individuals I’ve ever met. If she makes a bogey or double bogey, you just know she’s going to come right back with a birdie. She digs deep when she has to.

“And she hasn’t even tapped into her true potential yet, I think that will show in college. Her game is built for more difficult courses.”

CCA's Sofina Firouzi was one of the individual qualifiers for next week's CIF Regional.
CCA’s Sofina Firouzi was one of the individual qualifiers for next week’s CIF Regional.
(Ken Grosse)

For second place Torrey Pines, which has won 16 CIF section crowns, 10 under current Head Coach Chris Drake, No. 17 was not to be. After watching his team dig itself a 17-stroke hole Monday, Drake said it would take “perfection” to run down Carlsbad. A team which thrived on its depth, the Falcons simply didn’t have enough top-end firepower to reach that level.

“The tournament was a pretty good microcosm of our season, we just didn’t display the consistency we normally have,” said Drake. “We knew it was going to be tough, there’s a lot of depth and talent in the county.

“All of our players had their moments but Carlsbad has some really good golfers and they were playing their best at the right time.”

The play of senior Tiffany Lin helped Carlsbad build a big first round advantage.
The play of senior Tiffany Lin helped Carlsbad build a big first round advantage.
(Ken Grosse)

Freshman Sehee Sim, who wound up 16th at 10-over par, was Torrey’s best finisher. Junior Emily Zhou (T18) and freshman Sydney Sirinian (T25) were next in line.

While Drake was was not overly disappointed with being the No. 2 Division I team in San Diego, his squad got nosed out by Division II winner Bishop’s by two strokes for second place overall. That left the Falcons out of the CIF Southern California Regional picture since only the top pair of teams advance, meaning they will not have another shot at the Carlsbad this year. Bishop’s will join the Lancers for the 18-hole Regional event, November 11, at Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena.

Locals who qualified for the Regional as individuals include Zhou and Sim from Torrey Pines, sisters Jasmine and Janae Leeovao of El Camino and Canyon Crest senior Sofina Firouzi.


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