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Freshman Expecting to Make Big Impact

Girls' golf: Hasbrouck, a highly touted junior player from Louisiana, could turn Aliso Niguel into an instant section-title contender.

September 05, 2000|PETER YOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Leisl Hasbrouck has not yet hit a shot for the Aliso Niguel girls' golf team, but she has already become the talk of the Sea View League.

A freshman who moved to Orange County from Louisiana over the summer, Hasbrouck brings to the Wolverines a resume loaded with impressive accomplishments, a solid golf swing and a level of maturity far beyond her 14 years.

She also brings excitement about the upcoming season and hopes of a league title to a team that finished last with a 1-7 league record last year.

Can one player really make that much of a difference? Most definitely.

In girls' golf, teams count three of four individual scores. A player such as Hasbrouck, the current Southern California PGA girls' 13-15 year old state champion and winner of three Gulf States Maxfli PGA championships, can shave 15-20 strokes off a team score.

"That's tremendous," said Aliso Niguel Coach Wayne Westling. "I would guess that if we had her last year we would have won all but one of our contests."

With Hasbrouck, the Wolverines are not only talking about league titles, but Southern Section and WSCGA titles too. It would seem like too much pressure to put on a 14-year-old freshman, but it turns out Hasbrouck is leading the campaign.

"We want to win the state championship," Hasbrouck said. "I'm looking at it as my responsibility to help the team get to the next level. I'm always out to win."

There's a chance, however, that Hasbrouck might have only one chance to win.

In Louisiana, Hasbrouck earned varsity letters on the boys' golf team when she was in sixth, seventh and eighth grades at Riverside Academy, a 900-student K-12 school.

Southern Section Commissioner Jim Staunton assured that her eligibility for this year is not in question but is not ready to declare her eligible to compete for the remaining three.

"If she had played in California, it would be different," Staunton said. "But I'm not going to argue with another state's rules. My belief is that she will be eligible all four years, but it's something that needs to be cleared with the state."

Hasbrouck helped Riverside Academy to a Class 2-A Louisiana state championship last year and was named female golfer of the year by the New Orleans Times-Picayune. She was also named to the New Orleans high school all-metro team.

Westling had heard about hotshot golfers before and approached Hasbrouck with a tinge of skepticism. But when she shot 38-35-38 last week in three nine-hole qualifying rounds at Aliso Viejo Golf Course, he became a believer.

"She's a real player," he said. "And that is going to be a real benefit to the rest of the team. Candy Lin [the No. 1 player last year] came up to me and said 'I'm going to work so much harder now.' That's going to bring the team to a whole different level."

Gary DeBeaubien, the coach at league rival Irvine, is well aware of how much one player can impact a team. Before last year, Stella Lee transferred to Irvine and turned a beginning team that was more concerned with learning the game into a legitimate league force.

The Vaqueros, who finished at the bottom of the pack in the Sea View League the year before Lee arrived, came within a tiebreaker of making the Southern Section team finals with Lee, who averaged 36.0 last season.

"With the addition of Stella, all of a sudden we could compete with anyone in the league," DeBeaubien said. "With only three players scoring, an impact player like Stella can make a big difference."

It's not only in the scoring. DeBeaubien said Lee's practice habits and work ethic rubbed off on the rest of the team.

"She was instrumental in showing the girls how to focus, practice and train," he said. "She inspired them to want to be better."

Some are not sold on the idea that one player automatically means a championship. Patti Anduri, coach of defending WSCGA champion University, agreed that one player can bring a team from mediocrity to respectability, but said championship-caliber teams need depth.

"There are a lot of teams out there that have one real good player," she said. "But we have three and it took all three of them to win the championship."

When Priscilla Park joined Shelly Raworth at Villa Park, it changed the Spartans from a third-place Century League team to one that won all of its league matches by at least 20 strokes and came within four strokes of the Southern Section title.

Even Southern Section champion South Torrance was led by an impact player. Kelsey Durkin shot 67 in the section finals, nobody else on South Torrance broke 80 and they won by three strokes over Harvard-Westlake, which had two players shoot 72.

Hasbrouck hopes to make a similar impact and if she is indeed eligible for four years, she has no doubts that she will for some time.

"My goals with the high school team are to win all the team titles and to break all of the high school records," she said.

Now that would be some impact.

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