Young talent captures first SoCal Junior Amateur

Under an unnaturally cloudy sky, the inaugural Southern California Junior Amateur lived up to its billing this weekend at Industry Hills GC at Pacific Palms Resort. Sean Maruyama, a sophomore in high school who is already committed to UCLA, took home the boys title while playing the Eisenhower “Ike” Course. Angelina Kim, an impressive eighth-grader, was victorious on the Zaharias “Babe” Course.

In the boys division, 36 holes just weren’t enough as Maruyama and Edwin Kuang both finished at 5-under par. On the final hole of the day, Kuang had a 20-footer for birdie and the win, but it dramatically fell inches short.

In the playoff, the duo parred the first hole and moved to hole No. 13, a 197-yard par 3. Kuang flew the green and executed a miraculous chip shot just to have a look at par. It was all for not, however, as Maruyama rolled in a 12-footer for birdie and the victory.

“It means a lot,” said an elated Maruyama. “I haven’t won in a while so it really feels great.”

Over on the other course, everyone was chasing the first round leader, Kim. She fired an opening round 67, with an astounding eight birdies, for a two-shot lead heading into the day.

Throughout the final round, Kim played smart and steady. She was even on the day, with all pars, heading into No. 16 where she birdied and put the tournament out of reach.

“It was a big win for me. It’s very exciting,” said Kim. “To win this first event is one of the best wins I’ve ever had.”

After shooting an opening round 1-under 70, Beth Lillie followed that up with a 2-under 69, with three birdies and a single blemish coming on a bogey at No. 4. Her 3-under tournament total was good enough for second place.

Rounding out the top three was Nina Novilla who followed up an even par 71 with a 2-under 69.

The event was jointly run by the SCGA and SCPGA, and included 180 total participants over two days.

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