San Luis Obispo girls golf takes second in PAC 7

nwilson@thetribunenews.comOctober 23, 2013 

The bad news for the San Luis Obispo High girls golf team is that the Tigers didn’t achieve first place in the PAC 7.

The good news is that they finished a solid second after the league finals Wednesday. And two of the four individual golfers who qualified for CIF-Southern Section playoffs were San Luis Obispo golfers — Neha Sikand and Nora Zakaria.

Righetti took first with a team score of 469, and San Luis Obispo followed with a 491.

Arroyo Grande placed fourth in the tournament, shooting 525; Paso Robles was sixth at 571; Atascadero came in seventh, scoring 579. The tournament’s medalist was Righetti’s Melanie Johnson who shot 81 on the par 71 course, which challenged players with fast greens and wind.

The tournament helped decide the league standings for the season. Of the San Luis Obispo County teams, the Tigers finished second (behind Righetti), Arroyo Grande placed fourth, Paso Robles was fifth, and Atascadero finished last.

The Tigers entered the league finals having beaten Righetti in a dual match on Monday to take a one-point lead in the season standings — giving them the opportunity to win Wednesday.

“Righetti has some really good players,” Sikand said. “But I don’t think we played our best today. It seems like we all play really well together or we’ll have an off-day together.”

Sikand carded an 86, which was the third best score amongst a field that saw only 10 of the 42 PAC 7 golfers break 100. Sikand, who sank a six-foot putt for par on hole 18, said that her short putts caused her some difficulties Wednesday.

But the sophomore has had a stellar season — including an even-par round over nine holes at Dairy Creek Golf Course in a dual match versus Pioneer Valley.

Sikand, who added 30 yards of distance on her drives this season from last year, isn’t done yet.

Sikand finished third in PAC 7 individual play this season, totaling 32 over par on the season, qualifying her for the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

“I think the areas that I’ve improved my game have been in the mental aspects,” Sikand said. “Also, I’ve worked hard on putting. That’s where you can lose the most on strokes.”

Zakaria, San Luis Obispo’s only senior, shot 92 and finished fourth overall in individual play.

“I’ve really worked on chipping this year,” Zakaria said. “We’ve had to practice it. I think it’s a part of my game that has improved the most. … Our team was really cohesive this year. I think next year they’ll have a great shot at the league title.”

Tigers coach Julia Puscheck said that she’s looking forward to coaching San Luis Obispo next year with a talented core group of returning players.

“We’ve had a great season this year,” Puscheck said. “I think we have a good freshman class coming up and some good underclassmen who will be a year older. The key for me will be to figure out how to best motivate each player.”

San Luis Obispo’s Lisa Figueroa shot a 91, which was second best for the Tigers on Wednesday. But looking back on her season, Figueroa, a sophomore who moved from Sweden last year, said it was a fun ride.

“Golf is such a social sport,” Figueroa said. “It’s just fun being out there. The girls on the other teams are nice. We try to do well obviously, but we talk to each other and have a good time.”

Other golfers who scored well Wednesday included Arroyo Grande’s Tessa Oates, who carded a 90 to lead her team; Atascadero’s McKenzi Etchison recorded a team-high 98; Paso Robles’ Michaela Howard shot 101.

“These greens were definitely fast today,” Oates said. “I think everyone struggled a bit with them. But overall, this year (as a junior) was way better than last for me. I wasn’t even in the top 15 in league last year.”

This year, Oates finished the PAC 7’s fifth best golfer, one away from a postseason selection.

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