Girls Golf: Mya Chao cards first place, leads the Blazers to runner-up finish at D-III championship

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By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

VISALIA – Last year, Golden West’s Mya Chao shot a 107 at Lemoore Golf Course, ending her sophomore season. Fast forward 365 days and she is a blazing example of what hard work and perseverance will produce. Chao shaved 32 strokes off her game to become the 2017 individual Valley champ by carding a three over, 75.

“I am very proud of myself,” said Chao. “I think this is the beginning of me constantly shooting in the 70s.”

A junior, Chao believed it was her time and took full advantage of playing on her home course Valley Oak in Visalia.

Chao began her round on the first hole of the valley course, which was the tenth hole of the round. Through the first four holes, she was two over par.

Then Chao began to make a move to get to even par. She made a 13-foot putt on the par three. One hole later on the par four she was able to convert a long 30-footer for birdie.

“I thought that was pretty awesome. I’ve never done that before in a tournament,” said Chao.

Both of those putts moved her to even par for the round.

Chao sunk another long 15-foot putt on the par three, to remain even par.

But Chao gave a stroke back to par when she bogied the par four. She began the hole by pulling her drive left into some trees. Still having a lane, Chao tried for the green but came up short to the left of it. From there she was able to get on the green and down in two put for her bogie.

Chao finished off the front nine with a par on the par five. After that she went one over par through the first seven holes of the lakes course, with two bogies and a birdie.

“This is a credit to how hard [Chao] has worked all season long, and over the off season,” said Golden West head coach Terryn Geiger.

Chao’s composure was tested on the seventh hole of her round. She piped her tee shot down the middle of the 344 yards par four. In great position to attack the front pin position, she took too much club and hit it over and out of bounds.

Taking the penalty, Chao hit her fourth to fifteen feet and the putt that saved her round from disaster. By saving a bogie she entered the final hole at three over.

Chao was in a tie with Chowchillia’s Claire Wright entering the last hole.

“[Wright] is a great opponent,” said Chao. “I’ve learned a lot from watching her play.”

Chao was able to put the bogie behind her and safely navigate the par five, eighth hole, for a par.

Wright on the other hand folded under pressure when she pushed her second shot into the water on the right. After that the mistakes continued as she hit well behind the ball after the drop on her way to a double bogie.

Chao was the low scorer of a Golden West team that took second overall in the tournament with a score of 506: Madison Reyna, 114; Kelsey Story, 105; Haley Damron, 106; Megan Warner, 106.

Golden West’s Mya Chao drives her ball down the fairway of the sixth hole on her way to getting her second birdie in a row at the Valley Oaks Golf Course. Photo by Patrick Dillon.

Golden West’s Mya Chao drives her ball down the fairway of the sixth hole on her way to getting her second birdie in a row at the Valley Oaks Golf Course. Photo by Patrick Dillon.

“I am so proud of the entire team and how they battled,” said Geiger.

Now Chao will have to wait to see if her score is good enough against the other divisions to qualify her for the next round.

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