Mexico in lead at Junior Americas Cup

Samantha Penor, from South Nevada, follows her bunker shot on the final hole at the Walla Walla Country Club on Tuesday.

Samantha Penor, from South Nevada, follows her bunker shot on the final hole at the Walla Walla Country Club on Tuesday. Photo by Greg Lehman.

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Kerstin Fotu from Utah was all smiles after her first putt on the final hole Tuesday at the Walla Walla Country Club.

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Daniela Anastasi from the San Diego team looks to her teammates after sinking a 50-foot putt to finish her round Tuesday.

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

Par 72

Tuesday’s Results

Team Scoring

(Best Three Scores)

Mexico 219

Southern California 220

Northern California No. 2 221

British Columbia 223

Hawaii 223

Northern California NO. 1 225

San Diego 226

Idaho 231

Washington 233

Sun Country 235

Arizona 236

Oregon 237

Utah 237

Colorado 238

Southern Nevada 239

Northern Nevada 244

Montana 254

Wyoming 273

Individual Scoring

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

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