Photo By: Pro Image Studios/Special to the Town Crier
Nancy Xu bagged five birdies on the way to winning the individual portion of last week’s CIF NorCal Regional Girls Golf Championships, but the St. Francis High junior was most proud of her performance on a hole she parred.
After nearly driving the ball into a water hazard on the second hole, Xu recovered to save par on the 359-yard, par-4 hole at Brookside Country Club in Stockton.
“I punched it out and hit a pitch shot to 12 feet (of the hole) and made a downhill putt for par,” she said. “It helped boost my confidence the rest of the day.”
That par on No. 2 proved critical to Xu placing No. 1 in the Nov. 5 regional.
Despite shooting a career-best round of 67 – which put her 5-under par on the hazard-ridden course – Xu wasn’t alone at the top after 18 holes. To her surprise, Kathleen Scavo of Justin-Siena (Napa) posted the same score.
“I had no idea (what Scavo shot). With a 67, I thought I might have won,” said Xu, who capped her bogey-free round with back-to-back birdies. “After the round, my dad said, ‘Get ready for a playoff, Nancy.’ That was a shock.”
Xu wasn’t fazed for long. Determined to take home her first NorCal crown, Xu quickly got back to business.
“After I got over the initial shock, I went immediately over to the driving range and warmed up,” she said. “I wanted to win the championship.”
Ten minutes later, Xu met Scavo on the par-5 10th hole to start the playoff. Xu birdied the hole – dropping in an 18-foot downhill putt – while Scavo parred it after just missing a 12-footer. Match over.
“The birdies on 17 and 18 gave me confidence and momentum going into the playoff that helped me win,” Xu said.
St. Francis coach Phil Marrone was in awe of Xu’s round, which included four birdies on the back nine.
“Nancy played as flawless a round as I have seen in a very long time,” he said. “She made it look easy.”
This marked Xu’s first NorCal appearance; the 16-year-old qualified the previous week by tying for third at the Central Coast Section championships in Carmel. Xu wasn’t thrilled with her round – she shot a 72 at Rancho Cañada Golf Club – but had no complaints about her effort at NorCal.
“Breaking my personal record (of 68) was a special highlight,” Xu said. “My putter worked extremely well all day, and I just tried to play consistent and not make big mistakes.”
Next up: the state tournament. Xu was scheduled to compete for the state title Tuesday (after the Town Crier’s press deadline) at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga.
“I’m going to practice hard leading up to it and do the best I can,” she said.