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Girls’ Golf: Wilson’s Samantha Shaw Wins Moore League Individual Championship In Playoff

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It took three rounds of 36 holes at three different courses, and two playoff holes in the dark, to find a Moore League girls’ golf individual champion this week.

Wilson’s Samantha Shaw lost her lead to Poly’s Madison Williams at Skylinks Golf Course on Wednesday headed into the final round at El Dorado Golf Course on Thursday. Shaw bounced back to retake the lead at the final turn, only to see Poly’s Kate Montemayor pull even on the 15th hole. Then Shaw and Montemayor both delivered clutch shots to force a playoff, and Shaw took the title on the second extra hole well after the sun had set.

“It feels really good,” Shaw said. “This is the highlight of my year. This is what I wanted, and this is why I was tense about it yesterday. I really wanted it.”

After Shaw went over 40 on nine holes for the first time this season in the third round, Williams started the final round with a two-stroke lead. The turning point of the tournament came on the ninth hole when Shaw drained a 35-foot putt to make birdie and take a one-stroke lead. But she didn’t show much emotion while making the turn.

“She’s unflappable,” Wilson coach Paul Henry said of Shaw. “You can’t tell if she’s 10 up or 10 down. She’s just the same all the time. That definitely played in her favor.”

Henry and Shaw agreed that her playing other tournaments with the Toyota Cup Tour helped her all week.

“I was really nervous (on Wednesday), more than today,” Shaw said. “(On Wednesday) I was more tense and today I came in really relaxed. I think playing 18 holes relaxes me more because I know there’s a lot of golf left. Throughout the day I got more comfortable with my swing and I knew what to do.”

Meanwhile, Montemayor bounced back from early bogies on Thursday to play a steady round just behind the leaders. A sting of pars on the back nine, plus a birdie on the 13th hole and a par on the 14th, pulled her even with Shaw.

“She just hung in there and kept chipping away,” Poly coach Bill Dodge said of Montemayor. “I kept saying to her, ‘You define the moment, or the moment defines you.’ And she defined the moment. Perseverance and dedication are what paid off for her.”

“Honestly, going into the back nine I wasn’t too confident,” Montemayor said. “I was like four strokes behind Sammy, but I knew on the back nine there’s always a chance to make it up. I just kept fighting. And it was just my confidence coming back, it was like a sign of danger to the other competitors.”

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Montemayor and Shaw came to the 17th tee even on the leaderboard, with Williams a stroke back, and Shaw stepped up first to stick her shot within 10 feet of the pin on the 127-yard par three.

“I just really made sure to concentrate on my pre-shot routine and make sure that I felt comfortable when I stepped up to the ball,” Shaw said. “I swung with no tension and hoped for the best.”

Montemayor pulled her approach on 17 wide left, and left her chip short, but sunk a 15-foot par putt to stay tied atop the leaderboard with Shaw.

As the sun set, Shaw and Montemayor both laid up to par the 18th hole and force a playoff on the par-four first hole. With a large gallery following them to make sure everyone saw where the shots went, they both made clutch par putts on the first hole to extend the playoff to the second hole.

After impressive drives on the second hole, Shaw hit the shot of the day from 157 yards out to put her approach just 17 feet from the pin. 

“That’s one of my least favorite holes, and I was just super glad that I hit a good straight drive,” Shaw said of the second playoff hole. “And then my second shot was on the green and I was like, ‘Thank the Lord.’ I just really had the feel for it… going off of (the swing on the 17th hole) it was the same type of swing.”

Montemayor three-putted and Shaw tapped in the tournament winning putt. Wilson golfers have won every league individual title since 2012.

“My whole team came over to give me a group hug, my parents (John and Lisa) and my sister (Emily) were there and even (Alison Sor who graduated last year after winning three league titles) was there and I love her,” Shaw said. “It was great.”

“It was scary, but also pretty exciting,” Montemayor said of the playoff. “Sammy is a great competitor so being able to be in a playoff with her was an amazing opportunity finishing off my senior year.”

Shaw, Montemayor, Williams, Millikan’s Monique Thomas, Wilson’s Charlotte White, Millikan’s Hailey Stoskopf, Wilson’s Ciara Tancioco and Wilson’s Chloe Pearl all finished in the top eight and therefor qualified for the CIF Southern Section Individual tournament next Wednesday.

VIDEO: 2023 Moore League Girls’ Golf Individual Championship
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.