Wilson’s Emi Sverduk played the worst nine holes of her short high school girls’ golfing career on Thursday at El Dorado Golf Course, but she still made history.
Sverduk birdied the last hole of the shortened Moore League individual final round to become the first freshman ever to win the league championship. She is the sixth consecutive Bruin to take the individual title.
“I’m really excited and kind of in disbelief,” Sverduk said. “Winning it as a freshman is a big accomplishment.”
Sverduk held a five-stroke lead over teammate Hanah Vos after a pair of nine-hole rounds at Recreation Park and Skylinks Golf Course on Monday and Tuesday. However, she was eight-over par on the front nine at El Dorado on Thursday, and that allowed Vos and Millikan’s Juliette Ruaux to pull within two strokes. Sverduk admitted that she was more nervous than she’s ever been before a round.
“I was rushing and thinking about it too much,” Sverduk said.
“Sometimes that Moore League trophy brings out the nerves unlike anything else,” Wilson coach Jeff Evans said. “In my 13 years in the league I’ve seen it happen multiple times to a player who hasn’t had that experience.”
Sverduk said that walking to the 10th tee helped her reset and play better down the stretch, which ended up not being as long as usual.
A late start and slow play ahead of the high school golfers forced Evans and the other league coaches to make a decision to only play 16 holes when the final group of of Sverduk, Vos, Ruaux and Poly’s Hannah Van Wagner were on the 15th tee.
“We were worried about having enough daylight for all four groups on the golf course not being able to complete 18 holes,” Evans said. “You have to make sure the whole field gets through. Also, things were close out there, and we were worried that we would have a tie and not have enough daylight to play that thing off and decide it the right way on the golf course.”
Sverduk and Vos were tied for the lead, with Ruaux just one stroke back, when they got the news. None of the golfers complained after the round.
“I was thinking I just have to deal with it, play my best, and whatever happens happens,” Sverduk said.
Ruaux, who finished two-over par in one of the best rounds of her four-year varsity career, made things interesting on last hole of the day. The Millikan senior holed out for birdie from about 80 yards out on the 16th, which put her one stroke back of the leaders.
“I’m so happy that I was able to close like that,” Ruaux said. “When it went in I kind of freaked out. I yelled, ‘I’m done!’.”
Sverduk answered the incredible shot by intelligently leaving her approach below the hole. The freshman then drained an 18-foot uphill birdie putt to take the lead. Vos ended up missing her par putt to finished tied with Ruaux in second.
“I knew what it meant,” Sverduk said of her last putt. “I told myself I was going to hit it at the center of the hole, just commit to it, and it went in. I was so excited.”
“Emi has played really solid all year, and has shown she can battle and be tough,” Evans said. “She really held herself together.”
Sverduk (+15), Vos (+17), Ruaux (+17), Van Wagner (+26) and Wilson’s Emma Royle (+26) will advance to represent the Moore League at the CIF Southern Section individual regionals are Wednesday at Western Hills Country Club. Other medalists were Millikan’s Madison Heintzelman and Olivia Hibson, who finished tied for sixth, and Poly’s Katherine Grubbs.