Two hours after her round at last week’s Northern California girls golf championship, Los Altos High’s Cami Thai found herself in a familiar situation. She was headed to a playoff to qualify for state – just like she was a year ago on the same course at Berkeley Country Club.
“I was thinking, ‘A playoff again?’ The chances are so slim,” the sophomore said.
And like last year, Thai capitalized on her chance to advance, again claiming the ninth and final individual berth in the state championships. Her par putt on the second playoff hole Nov. 7 was just enough to edge Carondelet’s Kate Keith for the last invite to today’s event in Southern California.
As much as she enjoys spending time on the golf course, Thai said she could do without those extra holes. After all, the Los Altos resident was in another playoff only six days earlier at the Central Coast Section championships in Monterey, where she finished as the runner-up.
“I’d rather not been in them,” Thai said. “My coach said (last week’s playoff) gave him gray hairs.”
Her round was up and down at NorCal, where Eagles coach Abe Roof said Thai faced “tough windy conditions” on the way to a 4-over-par 76. Thai bagged five birdies – no other player had more than four – but she also had nine bogeys.
“It was an interesting round,” she said. “After a birdie I’d get a bogey, or vice versa.”
Thai cited her 20-foot putt for birdie on the fifth hole as her best shot of the day.
“That gave me momentum,” she said. “I was playing very aggressive, and making that gave me confidence.”
Thai hopes to carry that confidence to state, scheduled to tee off this morning at San Gabriel Country Club.
“I have not seen it,” she said of the course, “so it’s going to be a new experience. I know it’s pretty long, and Southern California has a bunch of really good players, so it’s definitely going to be good competition.”
Thai placed 23rd at last year’s event, held at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach.
After sweeping its first two opponents in the Northern California Open Division playoffs, St. Francis was set to meet league rival Mitty in Tuesday’s regional final (played after the Town Crier’s press deadline).
The top-seeded Lancers (33-0) entered the contest having won all five of their matches against the No. 2 Monarchs (30-8) this season.
The winner travels to Southern California to play either Cathedral Catholic or Mira Costa for the state crown. That match is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Santiago Canyon College in Orange.
St. Francis last week cruised to straight-set home victories over St. Francis of Sacramento and San Ramon Valley.
Los Altos coach Peter Kim feared that his team’s long layoff after the CCS playoffs could prove detrimental once the Eagles reached the regionals – and he was right. Los Altos was eliminated at home in the opening round of the NorCal Division II playoffs Nov. 8.
No. 9 Escalon of San Joaquin County beat the No. 8 Eagles in five sets: 27-25, 22-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-9.
“We were a little rusty, because we were off a week, and I think that hurt us,” Kim said.
Los Altos (27-10 overall) was actually off longer than that; it had been 10 days since the team’s straight-set loss to St. Francis in the CCS Open Division quarterfinals. The visiting Cougars (34-1) played three days earlier – winning its division of the Sac-Joaquin Section – and “they were ready to go,” Kim said. “They had a lot of energy, were well coached and didn’t commit many errors.”
The Eagles committed 11 hitting errors in the first set.
“We were a step behind,” said Kim, adding that the flu also hit his team last week.
Despite the way it ended, the coach is proud of what Los Altos accomplished this year.
“Overall, it was a great season,” he said. “We won our league and did more than I expected this year. I expected a rebuilding year, but we had some of the best team chemistry I’ve had at Los Altos.”
The Los Altos girls kept their perfect record intact, holding off Palo Alto and St. Francis to claim the CCS Division II title Saturday at Crystal Springs.
The Eagles beat runner-up Paly by eight points and third-place St. Francis by 11.
“It was a close one, but our girls are still undefeated after eight races this season,” coach Steph MacKenzie said. “Some of our runners started out a little too cautious in the first mile but got the job done.”
The Eagles broke their own school record with a combined team time of 91 minutes, 42 seconds, the third best team time in course history.
Senior Lauren Soobrian won the race with a personal-record 17:29, the fastest time in all five girls divisions. Sophomore sister Emily Soobrian also ran a PR (18:19) to place eighth, and junior Jasleen Sidhu took 10th (18:23).
Los Altos has qualified for the state meet scheduled Nov. 26 at Woodward Park in Fresno.
The Los Altos boys did not advance, placing fourth in CCS Division II. MacKenzie said the squad was “hit hard by the flu last week.”