54th California Women's Amateur Championship
July 20-24, 2020, Pasatiempo GC
The California Women’s Amateur Championship is designed for the top female amateur golfers to compete against each other for the state championship. The event utilizes 36 holes of stroke play qualifying followed by single-elimination match play for the top 32 players. Beginning in 2019, the event will be administered by the NCGA and SCGA in partnership with the CWAC Committee. The event will be conducted in Southern California for the first time in 2021 and will rotate between NorCal and SoCal venues moving forward.
Sara Camarena etches name into history, claims Cal Women's Am Title
Mexico City native Sara Camarena made a splash in her Golden State debut.
Camarena, a 20-year-old junior at Cal State University-Fullerton, made a clutch par on the tough par-3 18th hole Friday at Pasatiempo Golf Course to hold off Katherine Zhu, 1-up, and win the 54th California Women’s Amateur Championship.
Camarena, who becomes the first foreign-born player to win the prestigious event, was making her debut competing as an adult in a non-collegiate event in California. She transferred to CSU-Fullerton this past Spring after playing at Oklahoma State. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she’d only play one event as a TItan.
“I’ve only really played in California as a junior,” said the No.18-seeded Camarena, who joins the likes of Patty Sheehan and Juli Inkster as winners of the event. “I’m happy, but I don’t think that it’s really sunk in yet.”
Holding a 2-up lead through 16 holes, it looked like Camarena would somewhat cruise to a win. On the par-4 17th, however, she pulled her approach shot left and out of bounds, leading to an eventual triple-bogey and loss. On the ensuing 18th, with the flagstick tucked front right adn the hole playing at 145 yards, the No.9 seeded Zhu hit a great shot that landed about 9 feet above the pin. Camarena hit an even better, shot, with her ball landing just 3 feet to the right of the flagstick. Zhu missed her birdie try, and the two eded up tying with pars.
“On the tee on 18 I knew I was still 1-up. She (Zhu) hit a nice shot. I just wanted to be on the safe side,” said Camarena, who hit a choked-up 8-iron off the tee. “I wanted to hit a draw but my ball actually just went straight. It worked out.”
Camarena came out strong, making birdies on holes 1 and 2 to jump to a quick 2-up lead. Zhu, a junior at Cal-Berkeley, later won holes 7 and 8 with pars to tie the match.
On the back-nine, Zhu’s putter started uncooperating. While Camarena’s kept hitting. Having lost the 11th hole after making a bogey, on No.12 Zhu missed a 3-footer for a potential tie. The two would tie the next four holes before heading to the 17th. Whenever it looked like Zhu had a chance to win a hole, Camarena either came up with a fantastic up-and-down or clutch putt to earn a tie.
“I had a slow start, and the putts just didn’t drop,” said Zhu, a former member of the Junior Tour of Northern California. “Once I started to pick things up, she started making these great up-and-downs. Everything was working for me early in the week. Today, it slowed down. I’m still satisfied with how I played.”
While Camarena had never seen Pasatiempo prior to the week, she became a quick study and fan of the Alister MacKenzie layoiut.
“I learned where to hit and where to miss it,” Camarena said. “A big thing for me all week I think was my focus. I would try to relax in between shots. It’s hard to focus the whole time.”
Story courtesy of the NCGA