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Freshman Girl Makes Golf History

November 16, 2001|Peter Yoon

There was a changing of the guard in girls' golf Thursday during the Southern Section individual championships at Mission Lakes Country Club, where the young guns came blazing.

Nicole Smith of Riverside Martin Luther King made an eagle on her last hole for a one-under-par 70 to become the first freshman girl to win a section golf championship.

Smith won by two shots over Aime Cochran, a sophomore from West Torrance, and by three over Jennifer Osborn, a freshman from Huntington Beach Marina, giving underclassmen the top three spots.

Smith's title is the first section title in any sport at M.L. King, a three-year-old school, and she did it in the first high school competition she entered.

M.L. King does not have a girls' golf team, so Smith, 14, must play on the boys' team in the spring. She had to petition the section to play Thursday.

"I really couldn't wait to come out and play high school golf," Smith said. "I knew I could shoot under par, it was just a matter of coming in here and doing it."

She started on No. 17 and made eight consecutive pars before a bogey at No. 7. Birdies on Nos. 9 and 10 followed by a bogey at 11 put her back at even par, but a driver and a five-iron to within 10 feet at the 443-yard par-five 16th set up her winning eagle putt.

"I didn't feel like anything was spectacular, just steady," Smith said. "That's how I wanted to play."

For Cochran, it was her second consecutive runner-up finish in the section finals. Last year, she shot 73 and won a three-way playoff for second place.

This year, she shot 39 on the front nine then regrouped with a 33.

"I had a completely different mind-set on the back nine," Cochran said. "I was taking it too seriously on the front, then I thought, 'Wait a minute, this is high school golf."'

Osborn defeated three seniors, two of them ranked among the nation's top 20, in a playoff for third place.

Erica Blasberg of Corona, ranked No. 11 in the nation by Golfweek Magazine, and Irene Cho of Fullerton Sunny Hills, ranked No. 17, also shot 73 and tied with Osborn, as did Sara Trenschel of Goleta Dos Pueblos.

But Osborn made a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

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