SAN DIEGO — Michele Lyford shot a par 74 on Torrey Pines' North Course Friday afternoon to win the girls' 15-17 division of the Optimist Junior World Golf Tournament. Then the 17-year-old player from Redlands sought out her father.
To tell him of the good news? To share the moment of victory? No, that wasn't foremost on her mind. Lyford had to locate her father to remind him that they had to check out of their hotel room.
Some people just have so many things to do.
"Well, I didn't want us to have to pay for an extra day," said Lyford, whose steady play Friday allowed her to break a 219 tie after three rounds with Cypress' Amy Fruhwirth. Lyford finished with a four-round total of 293.
Bonita's Christy Erb, a student at University High, shot a three-under-par 71 to finish second behind Lyford with a 295.
In the boys' 15-17 division on Torrey Pines' South Course, Carito Villaroman of the Philippines shot a one-under-par 71 and cruised to the championship by 11 strokes over San Diego's Phil Mickelson. Villaroman's four-day total of 15-under-par 273 broke the tournament record by seven strokes.
While Villaroman was winning easily, Lyford had to wait until the par-5 13th hole to take control for good. She led Fruhwirth by three shots when both players hit just short of the 13th green in two. Lyford chipped close to the hole and Fruhwirth chipped past the green. As Fruhwirth scrambled for a bogey, Lyford birdied to expand her lead to five strokes.
"I felt I had it in the bag right there," Lyford said.
After locating her father, she packed her bags and got ready to head back to Redlands. Once there, she will celebrate some before getting ready for another tournament Monday in Palm Springs.
"I'm playing well right now so that ought to be a lot of fun," Lyford said.
She's used to having a lot of fun. In addition to golfing, she performs in a Redlands-based circus. She rides the unicycle and performs a trapeze act.
"The circus stuff helps me because you need a lot of arm strength to do the trapeze," Lyford said. "That helps me hit the ball further."
The circus also has helped turn her into quite a performer. Lyford joked freely with the media, almost as if her postmatch interview was being held in the center ring.
"Winning isn't all that big of a deal for me," Lyford said in between giggles. "If I don't win, I might be disappointed, but it doesn't affect my whole day."
That's because she has so many other things going on. Along with being a fine golfer and a circus performer, Lyford has a 4.0 grade-point average in two of her three years at Redlands High School.
Villaroman, meanwhile, is happy enough with his golf. The Weber State star has become the first junior ever to win the 15-17 boys' division two straight years. Villaroman won the title as a 16-year-old by two strokes.
This year, he took control early by posting a 66 in the first round and a 67 in the second. He had only five bogeys the entire tournament.
"I liked it this way," Villaroman said. "There's no use leaving anything to chance on the final day."
With Villaroman cruising, the only drama that remained on the back nine was Mickelson's battle with South Africa's Manuel Zerman for second place.
Mickelson, from University High in San Diego, dropped a seven-foot putt on 18 to beat Zerman by a stroke.