By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
The Golfin’ Dolphins may not have the best player in the Western League, but they are the best team and they proved it once again in Thursday’s league finals at Balboa Golf Course in Encino.
Six Palisades High girls competed and they all left with medals around their necks–their rewards for placing in the Top 10.
Leading the way was sophomore Melanie Matayoshi, who played in the lead group alongside medalist Kara Temena of University and Venice’s Caitlin Sasamori and Sofia Alonzo. Matayoshi was Palisades’ low scorer in all five league matches (four at Penmar, one at Balboa) with an average score of 10-over par and she paced the Golfin’ Dolphins once more Thursday, shooting a 96 to finish fourth overall.
Temena shot 3-under on the back nine and won by nine strokes with a 1-over 74.
“My short game has improved the most,” said Matayoshi, who learned to hit low shots out of the trees with her 6-iron at a UCLA camp over the summer. “Driving is my favorite. One of my weaknesses is that I tend to overswing, but I have less nervous energy. My 8- and 9-irons are my most accurate clubs.”
Matayoshi, who started with LA Junior Golf at the age of 4 but didn’t play tournaments until last year, missed the cut for the Southern California Regionals by seven shots last season.
“Making City finals for the first time [last year] was great. This time I want to qualify for regionals,” added Matayoshi, who stuck her approach within four feet of the cup and two-putted for par on No. 14. “With all the schools here I didn’t think I’d get first but I wanted to my best for our team. I don’t try to coach anyone, but I try to keep the enthusiasm up.”
Senior Carly Weitz shot a 50 on the back nine to take fifth with a score of 109.
“I shot 135 at league finals last year so this is a big improvement,” said Weitz, who has been on the Pali High team since Coach James Paleno reinstated the girls program in 2014. “It’s tedious to play 18 holes when we’re used to playing nine, but it’s fun being with my teammates.”
Freshman Lillia Weissmuller also carded a back-nine 50 for a total of 111and seventh overall.
Senior Sophia Eberlein carded a 113 for eighth place and afterwards warned to look out for the geese roaming the fairways.
“I don’t have a driver so I used my 6-iron, sand wedge and putter,” Eberlein said. “I didn’t get any birdies, but I’m pretty happy with this score. We’ve practiced a lot more this year and the main goal was to get our team to City.”
Sophomore Abby Brown shot a 116 for ninth place while freshman Mariana Paleno (119), the coach’s niece, was 10th in the field of 15. She chipped onto the green from 60 yards and two-putted to birdie the third hole. Her older sister Camila was sick with mononucleosis and strep throat and couldn’t play in league finals.
“Having my sister on the team has motivated me and we’re very competitive with each other,” she said. “We bet a dollar on putts and it’s her last year so I want her to get to regionals. I wanted to break 120 today and I did so I’m happy.”
As the league champion, Palisades will compete in the City finals next Wednesday at Balboa. The top two teams and top 12 individuals advance to regionals Nov. 10 in San Bernardino.
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