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Golf: Homa, Lee stay busy

Former and current Viking rising in rankings during summer

Posted: July 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia graduate Max Homa, a junior at the University of California, Berkeley, is currently ranked 49th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings after a strong summer of tournament play. Homa begins the Porter Cup on Tuesday.

 

The summer is seen as an offseason or a break for some athletes.

Two local golfers see the season as an opportunity to ascend the rankings.

In Max Homa's case, it's the World Amateur Golf Rankings, where Homa sits at 49th. The University of California, Berkeley junior and Valencia High graduate has made significant strides of his own this summer, coming off a fourth-place finish at the Players Amateur in Bluffton, S.C. on July 10. Homa finished 10-under after four rounds and ended up two strokes behind the winner.

He also finished tied for eighth at the Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, Pa. with a four-day score of 4-under early last month.

"I'm playing great," Homa said. "I'm hitting the ball the best I've ever hit it."

Valencia High School's Alison Lee, who will be a junior in the fall, is also playing some of her best golf lately.

The UCLA-bound 16-year-old is now No. 8 in the latest American Junior Golf Association Polo rankings.

This comes after two top-five finishes at tournaments she's played in this summer. That makes it five total top five's this year for Lee in eight events played on the AJGA tour, whose members range from 12 to 18 years old.

This week, Lee is competing at the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship in Olympia Fields, Ill. near Chicago.

After two days of stroke play, Lee is tied for 33rd place at 7-over. The tournament moves to a match-play format today through Saturday when a champion is crowned.

Lee faces Allisen Corpuz in the first round of match play at 9:21 a.m. today.

A year ago at the same tournament, Lee didn't make it past stroke play, and finished tied for 130th and 24-over. She's come a long way since last summer's slump.

"I was playing all these tournaments, and I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong," Lee said. "I was upset. I was crying after every round. I didn't know what to do. ... Eventually, I was able to figure out what I was doing wrong."

Lee has already taken part in two U.S. Women's Open tournaments and has reached as high as No. 5 in the AJGA poll.

It now appears she's made it through her first major slump.

In June, Lee played in the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the Rolex Tournament of Champions, finishing tied for second and fourth, respectively.

Her second-place finish at the Junior Championships was made possible by a blazing final nine holes which resulted in a tournament-best 7-under round. She shot a 28 on a back nine that included six birdies, an eagle and two pars.

Though Homa has had a similarly successful summer, his has been slightly more consistent.

Other than one slipup, Homa has recorded just one over par score in his last nine competitive rounds. Homa's one blunder came at a U.S. Open qualifying event in Glendale, Ariz., where he shot an uncharacteristic 82 on a par 71 during the second day of the event on June 6.

Going into his junior year at UC Berkeley, Homa said he's playing the most consistent golf of his career. He attributes the improvement to a different strategy he took in scheduling tournaments in the offseason.

"I had a really big summer last summer, and I didn't want to do that again," Homa said. "Once you get to college, you're travelling all the time, and I just wanted to take a break."

In all, Homa plans on playing six tournaments before college season kicks off in the fall. That leaves three more - the Porter Cup in Niagra Falls, N.Y., the Western Amateur in Glenview, Ill. and the U.S. Amateur Championship in Erin, Wis.

Homa is in the midst of his longest break of the summer, 16 days, which leads into the Porter Cup next Tuesday. The Western Amateur tees off the following week, and the summer slate concludes with the biggest of them all - the U.S. Amateur Championship on Aug. 22.

Lee will take part in the equally distinguished U.S. Women's Amateur Championship on Aug. 8 in Barrington, R.I.

NOTES: The Santa Clarita Valley's Robinson Ranch Golf Club will play host to a Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series tournament from Aug. 15-18. The All-Star series is a yearly collection of events around the country designed for members of the American Junior Golf Association to improve their status as up-and-coming golfers. The event is open to both boys and girls, ages 12-15, who have qualified under AJGA criteria. The field will included a total of 96 players. For information on participating, visit AJGA.org.

 

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