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Lee Taking Steps to Outshine the Rest

October 10, 2000|PETER YOON

Sunny Lee can't help getting overshadowed by Angela Won on the University girls' golf team.

Won is a former Los Angeles Times' Orange County player of the year and was a semifinalist at the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship over the summer.

Not only that, Lee is only 5-feet 1-inch with a petite frame and is lost in pretty much any shadow.

But Lee, the No. 2 player for the top-ranked Trojans, is beginning to stand out on her own with the help of some added distance in her tee shots and some smaller numbers on her scorecards.

"People didn't hear about her much last year because everything was Angela, Angela, Angela," Trojan Coach Patti Anduri said. "But [Lee] was the most improved player on the team last year and she's gotten better this year."

After winning seven local tournaments and twice finishing third in Toyota Tour Cup events over the summer, Lee, a senior, has been a medalist twice in University's nine matches so far, already matching her total in 18 matches last year.

She's always been solid--the Trojans would not be undefeated in three years without her, nor would they have won the 1998 Southern Section and 1999 CIF-SCGA titles--but Lee knew she needed to improve.

She realized last year that she did not possess the natural physical strength to rise to the level of the top players, so she began an intense workout regimen with nightly push-ups, sit-ups and weight training in order to gain strength and distance. The result has been an added 15 yards off the tee.

"I'm so small that people are like, 'What is she doing in golf?' " Lee said. "I've been working hard on getting stronger, trying to get longer."

The biggest improvement has come in consistency. She's learned how to eliminate the high scores that drove her season average up last year.

"She's become very consistent in shooting right around 38 or 40," Anduri said. "You see the guys standing around the tee when she's playing and . . . then she hits one right down the middle and their jaws drop."

Lee did a lot of thinking--and maturing--this past summer. She got a car, a credit card, a checkbook and a cell phone. Branching away from her parents, she traveled to tournaments without them, staying in hotels by herself and contemplating her future.

She realized that golf was a big part of her, and that she needed to improve if she wanted to continue in college.

"I've grown so attached to golf," she said. "I know that's what I want to do. I started thinking, 'Wherever I end up, I'm going to play golf.' "

The college offers have been slow in coming, but Lee finds it can be a blessing not dealing with heavy recruiting right now.

By staying patient and minimizing the poor rounds that drove her stroke average up last year, she hopes colleges will begin to notice.

"I'm hoping to do the whole college experience. ," she said. "I've been working my butt off for it."


Top-ranked University and second-ranked Villa Park have scheduled a nine-hole match for Oct. 19 at Green River in Corona.

The match was not part of the original schedule for either team, but both had open slots and agreed to add the match.


Stella Lee of Irvine continues to impress. The senior shot a county-best four-under-par 32 at Oak Creek. Her round included an eagle, three birdies and a bogey.

She has a season average of 34.5 and has been under par six times in 10 matches. Her season high is 38.


After battling inconsistency for the first two weeks, Megan Mulhaupt of Santa Margarita got her season going last week.

The senior and No. 1 player for the Eagles shot 38, 36 and 38 in victories over Corona del Mar, Palm Desert and Mater Dei. Her average for the first two weeks was 43, yet she has been medalist in eight of ten matches for the No. 3 Eagles (9-1).


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