SKILLMAN – In the final competitive round of her high school career, Montgomery’s Alice Chen saved her best for last. Thursday morning on her home course, Chen fired a 7-under 65, earning her second straight individual title at the girls golf Tournament of Champions at Cherry Valley Country Club.
In a bogey-free round in which she poured in seven birdies and hit 17-18 greens in regulation, Chen beat her 2013 score of 71 by six strokes. She posted a 33 on the front-nine and 32 on the back-nine.
After her round, in which she was one of the first three golfers to come off of the course, Chen said she was still in shock about the score she posted.
“I was trying to do my best and I started out really well with three birdies on the front nine and I kept on hitting greens,” Chen said. “My ball striking was pretty solid today and I was able to hit 17 out of 18 greens, and the one I didn’t hit was on 18 and I chipped it in from about 20 feet away, so it was a crazy day.”
Chen, who will attend Furman University in the fall on a full golf scholarship, said she didn’t expect to post a score as low as she did on Thursday, or to have this kind of career for that matter.
“To see the progression that I’ve gone through and to have everything come together on one day wasn’t just me. God was molding me and my game,” she said.
Chen’s 7-under score was six shots better than Lenape’s Erica Han, who carded a 1-under 71. Taking a page out of the film Caddyshack, Chen said she was out on the Cherry Valley greens Wednesday night, putting with a teammate until 7:40 p.m.
A year after winning the individual title as a junior, Chen said there was some pressure coming in as the defending champion, but she was nervous in the sense that she didn’t want to let herself down.
“I’m a very sentimental person and I wanted to make the best out of it today. I wanted to make the most out of the experience and I didn’t want to psyche myself out,” Chen said. “The biggest advantage of playing here today, with it being our home course, is that we know the greens really well and we know how to approach them. Being that it’s so close allowed me to get out here last night and having teammates and friends out here to support was great.”
Chen wasn’t the only competitor to repeat on Thursday, as Ridge won its fourth straight team title, posting a score of 303 to best Montgomery by 15 strokes.
Christine Wang finished with a 2-over 74, Monica Schumacher was one shot behind with a 75, Yunhee Kang carded a 76 and Carolyn Wang turned in a 78 to round out the Ridge contingent, as the Red Devils carved 22 strokes off of their record-breaking performance from 2013.
“Unbelievable performance. I’m so thrilled for them and the peaked at the right time; it’s a tribute to them and they followed the game plan,” Ridge head coach Siobhan Devlin said. “They were out there in December and January and February, finding a piece of grass and getting kicked off golf courses in 30-degree weather. We had some struggles throughout the year, but I just told them to stick to the plan and I thought we’d have a chance. Did I think that all four would shoot below 80? No, but I thought two would. The conditions ended up being a perfect storm for us and I told the girls that there’s a difference between deserving and earning it and they earned it big time today.”
Megan McLean of Voorhees finished in a four-way tie for fifth place with a two-over 74, along with Katie Lee from Hunterdon Central. Zora Moore of Delaware Valley joined Kang and Carley Hopton of Madison in a three-way tie for 10th-place with a 76.
TEAM SCORES: 1. Ridge 303; 2. Montgomery 318; 3. Hunterdon Central 327; 4. Red Bank Catholic 333; 5. Bergen Tech 359; 6. West Windsor Plainsboro-South 362; 7. Tenafly 366; 8. West Windsor Plainsboro-North 370.
INDIVIDUALS: 1. Alice Chen (Montgomery) 65; 2. Erica Han (Lenape) 71; 3. Christina Parsells (Kent Place) 73; 3. Nicole Totland (Red Bank Catholic) 73; 5. Megan McLean (Voorhees) 74; 5. Christine Wang (Ridge) 74; 5. Cindy Ha (Demarest) 74; 5. Katie Lee (Hunterdon Central) 74; 9. Monica Schumacher (Ridge) 75; 10. Zora Moore (Delaware Valley) 76; 10. Yunhee Kang (Ridge) 76; 10. Carley Hopton (Madison) 76.