WALLA WALLA — The temperatures may have reached triple digits, but California junior golfer Yoonhee Kim’s scorecard certainly didn’t.
Kim, a 16-year-old representing Northern California’s No. 2 team, fired a 4-under 68 to lead all players after round one at the Girls’ Junior Americas Cup at the Walla Walla Country Club on Tuesday.
“The greens are pretty fast out there,” Kim said. “Just getting the ball on the greens and make sure you make your putts. It was a really fun day. It was hot, but it was fun.”
The tournament features 72 of the top female junior golfers representing 18 state, provincial and national golf associations with teams of four. The tournament is a 54-hole stroke play competition with teams counting their top three scores.
Team Mexico, the defending tournament champions, staked a one-stroke lead over Southern California after round one.
Mexico fired a 3-over par 219 as a team. Marijosse Navarro and Ana Paula Valdes — the tournament’s defending champion — both led the squad with even-par 72s.
Teammate Maria Fassi was close behind with a 3-over 75.
Behind Mexico, Southern California fired a 220 led by Stephanie Lau, who carded a 1-under 71. After Lau, Muni He fired a 2-over 74 and Brigitte Dunne came in with a 75.
Kim and Northern California No. 2 finished third after the first round with a team score of 221. Jessica Fore carded an even-par 72 and Hannah Facchini came in with an 81.
Kim’s round, which began on the back nine, didn’t open favorably, as she started 1-over through two holes. But she recovered nicely from there, as she collected four straight birdies to finish 3-under on her first nine.
But as she began the front nine, she battled the elements almost as much as the speedy greens.
“Today was a lot different than the practice round, because the practice round there were clouds covering so we were cooler for a longer time,” Kim said. “It was tough, but I just tried staying in the shade as much as I probably could.”
Kim’s 68 bested the next closest competitor — Lau — by three strokes. With the second round teeing off today, Kim is looking to parlay Tuesday’s success into another red number.
“Today I was just trying to be as relaxed as I possibly could,” Kim said. “I just want to continue staying relaxed. Just having fun with my teammates.”
British Columbia and Hawaii tied for fourth, as both teams carded scores of 223. Shirin Anjarwalla led British Columbia with an even-par 72, and Hawaii’s Malia Nam also came in with an even-par 72.
Northern California No. 1 stands in sixth after round one with a score of 225.
San Diego, led by Haley Moore’s 1-under 71, finished just behind the Northern Californians with a score of 226.
Idaho’s Gabby Barker led her squad to eighth with an even-par 72.
Team Washington had its hands full with the greens, as the home team finished behind Idaho with a score of 233.
Olivia Benzin led the way with a 77, followed by teammates Lauryn Keating and Sarah Rhee, who both carded 78s. Sierra Kersten came in with a non-counting 79 to round out the team scores.
“I believe I played better than I actually shot,” Benzin said. “I had a rough start and got over par pretty quickly. After that I hit it OK, but I had a lot of birdie putts and I couldn’t make any of them. That was the toughest part for me — I could’ve gotten it back, but I didn’t.”
“I couldn’t make the putts I needed to and I had a lot of birdie putts I couldn’t make,” Rhee said. “It was close but I just couldn’t drop the putts today.”
The Washington team members, all of whom played this country club course when they were 13, said the course played much longer this time around.
The greens — even more so than the distance — gave team Washington fits.
“I feel like my stroke was great, I just didn’t give it enough break,” Keating said. “It’s more frustrating to come back from those little birdie putts you should be able to make. You know you should have made that.”
As for today’s round, the Washington team is focusing on its short game.
“These greens are really small,” Rhee said. “I know I missed a lot of greens today. Sometimes I wasn’t able to get up and down when I should’ve, so definitely short game is the key.”
Team Oregon finished four strokes behind Washington with a 237, which was tied for 12th with Utah. Katie Collom led the team with a 77.
Second round play is underway, as golfers teed off at 7:30 this morning.
Girls’ Junior Americas Cup
At Walla Walla Country Club
(Best Three Scores)
Southern California 220
Northern California No. 2 221
British Columbia 223
Northern California NO. 1 225
San Diego 226
Sun Country 235
Southern Nevada 239
Northern Nevada 244
Yoonhee Kim, No. California #2 68
Stephanie Lau, So. California 71
Haley Moore, San Diego 71
Shirin Anjarwalla, British Columbia 72
Gabby Barker, Idaho 72
Jessica Fore, No. California #2 72
Malia Nam, Hawaii 72
Marijosse Navarro, Mexico 72
Ana Paula Valdes, Mexico 72
Madison Kerley, Arizona 73
Muni He, So. California 74
Aiko Leong, Hawaii 74
Brooke Riley, No. California #1 74
Brigitte Dunne, So. California 75
Maria Fassi, Mexico 75
Jacquelyn Galloway, Sun Country 75
Mary Parsons, British Columbia 75
Aman Sangha, No. California #1 75
Jamie Binns, San Diego 76
Sam Hutchison, No. California #1 76
Jennifer Kupcho, Colorado 76
Yedin Lui, Idaho 76
Abigail Rigsby, British Columbia 76
Darian Zachek, Sun Country 76
Olivia Benzin, Washington 77
Katie Collom, Oregon 77
Kerstin Fotu, Utah 77
Rong Ji, So. California 77
Mari Nishiura, Hawaii 77
Paola Ortiz, Mexico 77
Mary Weinstein, Colorado 77
Alice Duan, No. Nevada 78
Lauryn Keating, Washington 78
Sarah Rhee, Washington 78
Natalie Yamamoto, So. Nevada 78
Daniela Anastasi, San Diego 79
Sierra Kersten, Washington 79
Jessica Sloot, Utah 79
Sasha Banks, San Diego 80
Julia Becker, So. Nevada 80
Mikayla Fitzpatrick, Arizona 80
Jenny Krause, Oregon 80
Madison Odiorne, Oregon 80
Ellen Secor, Oregon 80
Hannah Facchini, No. California #2 81
Laura Gerner, Utah 81
Samantha Penor, So. Nevada 81
Christine Kim, No. California #1 82
Jacqueleine Ngo, No. California #2 82
Katrina Prendergast, No. Nevada 82
Elizabeth Caldarelli, Arizona 83
Katie Cudworth, Idaho 83
Kristin Le, Hawaii 83
Ashley Lonergan, Arizona 83
Xema Motes, Utah 83
Sydney Smith, So. Nevada 83
Hannah Zwemke, Montana 83
Kinsley Bonfilio, Idaho 84
Michelle Duan, No. Nevada 84
Avril Li, British Columbia 84
Mia Salome, Sun Country 84
Coral Schulz, Montana 84
Kylee Sullivan, Colorado 85
Shelby Turner, Sun Country 85
Eryn Ellis, Wyoming 86
Teigan Avery, Montana 87
Jaclyn Murray, Colorado 87
Samantha Sorensen, No. Nevada 87
Shealyn Hafer, Montana 88
Sydney Gunn, Wyoming 93
Caitlyn Skavdahl, Wyoming 94
Kalle Lunsford, Wyoming 95