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Lee Is Ultimate Driving Machine

Fairfax sophomore turns the heat up on competition, shooting a 69 and winning City Section championship by three strokes.

May 22, 2003|Steve Galluzzo | Special to the Times

It was hard to tell what was hotter -- the sweltering conditions or Albert Lee's driver.

The Fairfax High sophomore survived the 90-degree temperature to fire a three-under-par 69 on Wednesday at Griffith Park's Harding Golf Course and win the City Section championship with a two-round total of two-under 142.

Lee's was the only score under par. Eric Tobak of Taft, who also shot 69 on Wednesday, finished second at 145, Jeff DeLarme of LACES was third (147) and Mario Lamela of Carson was fourth (148).

"It's harder to concentrate and easier to get frustrated when it's that hot, but I try not to let any outside influences bother me," said Lee, who hit all but two fairways and had at least a birdie on all three par-five holes.

"So much of this game is mental and if you worry about what other players are doing, or about the weather or about your last shot, you won't play well."

Lee began the second round with a one-stroke lead over DeLarme. His lead would have been larger had he not been penalized two strokes for hitting outside a tee box Monday on the longer Wilson Golf Course. Still, he finished with a one-over-par 73.

"This is my lowest score ever," said Lee, who shot two under to win junior tournaments at Hansen Dam and La Mirada golf courses last year and finished tied for second at the L.A. City Junior Championships in April. "My average score is par. I rarely shoot more than two over or under that. I'd rather be consistent than really good one day and really bad another."

Lee bogeyed the first and fifth holes Wednesday but made up for them with two birdies and an eagle on the next three holes. He set up his eagle on the par-five, 476-yard seventh hole with a 310-yard drive down the middle of the fairway.

On the par-three 15th, Lee chipped his second shot within inches of the cup and easily tapped in for par. On the par-four 16th, he hit the flag with a 65-yard lob wedge and settled for another par. He made a two-foot putt to birdie the final hole.

It was a gratifying victory for Lee, who played in the City finals as a freshman but finished well behind the leaders. He also earned the first golf title of any kind for Fairfax, which brought only two players and did not compete for the team title.

Lee, Tobak, DeLarme and Lamela qualified for the CIF-Southern California Golf Assn. championships on June 3 in Murrieta at The SCGA Golf Course.

The other individual qualifiers were Phillip Chou of LACES, Andrew Lepore of North Hollywood, Ryan Marsh and Marshal Abraham of El Camino Real, Irving Blake of Downtown Business Magnet and Blane Snyder of Venice.

Granada Hills' Liam Slattery chipped in a 15-footer for birdie on the 18th hole and Aaron Hoffer shot a personal-best 73 as the Highlanders (621) edged defending champion Palisades (623) for the team championship. Both teams qualified for the CIF-SCGA championships.

Woodland Hills El Camino Real (624) led by three strokes after the first round but finished third.

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