SALINAS — A long day of frustration turned into relief for East Union senior Brooke Riley on Monday.
After a round in which she described as “humbling,” Riley discovered that her 6-over 78 would be good enough to advance to the CIF State Championships for a third straight year. She was part of a four-way tie for ninth place at The Club at Crazy Horse, the site of the CIF/NCGA Northern California Regional. It was on that same course a season ago that she scored a 71 for second place.
Fortunately for Riley, she wasn’t the only one who struggled with the cold, windy and sometimes rainy conditions that caused an hour-and-a-half long delay. Scores overall were higher than normal for this level, as Samantha Gong of St. Ignatius and Sabrina Iqbal of Pioneer were co-medalists at even-par 72. Amador Valley’s Miranda Wang, one of Riley’s three playing partners, also made state with a 77.
The top three teams — St. Francis (409), Dougherty Valley (415) and Carondelet (415) — are heading to state along with the best 12 individuals who are not part of qualifying teams.
“I knew that scores were a little high today, but I wasn’t trying to think about qualifying for state,” Riley said. “I wanted to take it shot by shot because it was mentally a tough day with the conditions and with me missing short putts throughout the day. It got frustrating. I was hitting well but I couldn’t make a putt.”
Her card had more blemishes than normal. Riley teed off at around 8:40 in the morning on the par-five first hole, and by 9 o’clock she was already 1-over after a rare three putt.
“I had a 5-6-foot birdie putt that went downhill and broke to the right, and it went right over the edge of the hole and rolled 3 feet past,” Riley said. “Then I happened to miss the next short putt. My confidence was shaken a little bit.”
The rough start continued with another bogey on hole 3 then another on 8. She made the turn at 1-over thanks to birdies on the 163-yard, par-three fifth and par-five holes, but she was plagued by the yips on the back half. Riley had four bogeys on the back nine, including a double on the 15th.
Riley ended the round the same way she started: a bogey on a par-five hole.
“I had to choke back some tears because I didn’t know if it would be my last high school tournament,” Riley said.
The Northwestern commit has one more to go, it turns out. The state tournament will be held at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach next Tuesday, Nov. 17. She settled for a third-place tie last year at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga, where she missed a 4-foot putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff for the individual state title.
Riley is no longer content on just being there.
“I have another chance to redeem myself and hopefully end my high school career on a great note,” Riley said. “I want to win state next week. I’ll keep working hard on my wedges and make sure to stay sharp with my long game and be confident with my short putts.”