Piner’s Lorence advances to TOC

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Piner’s Rachel Lorence shot the lowest round of her career in Monday’s North Coast Section qualifier while teams from Casa Grande and Ukiah barely advanced to next week’s Tournament of Champions.

Lorence, a four-year member of the Piner golf team, shot 91 (45-46) over Sunol Valley’s Cypress Course to take the ninth of 12 individual qualifying spots for the TOC next Monday at the Lone Tree Golf Course in Antioch. Khianna Schmuhl of Analy took the final individual spot with a 99.

Casa Grande, runner-up in the Sonoma County League, finished 11th in the qualifier with 553 strokes while North Bay League runner-up Ukiah took the 13th and final spot with a 567.

Amador Valley (410) won the team competition while Marguerite Swearingen was tournament medalist with a 75. The Granada golfer has accepted a scholarship to UNLV.

This will be Lorence’s first trip to the Tournament of Champions. She was eliminated in the NCS qualifier the past two years.

“She drives the ball 240 to 250 yards off the tee,” Prospectors coach Rich Gregus said. “She’s ecstatic to be going to the ‘Big Show.’ Her game has improved in recent weeks. We’ve really worked hard on the putting and chipping and that came in handy in the qualifier.

“Rachel’s about 5-7 and she’s very strong. At the driving range, we’ve been working on bringing the club back slowly and then powering through to the finish. She had some monster drives Monday.”

Lorence had a 45-46 on the par 72 layout. The course was heavily saturated from weekend rains and officials allowed the golfers a club length relief, if they needed to improve their lie.

That slowed play down and an average round took nearly seven hours.

Casa Grande was paced by Katie Stewart’s 99. Scores by the other Gauchos golfers were Sarah Bell 109, Jenna Turner 114, Rebecca Welter 114 and Shibani Dighe 117.

For Ukiah, Karine Schat shot under her handicap to help the Wildcats advance. The junior finished with a 110.

“I was six shots under my handicap and with the soggy conditions that was a good round for me,” Schat said. “Playing in a tournament like this was a great experience and will give me something to look forward to in my senior year.”

The other Ukiah players were: Courtney Gray (112), freshman Gretchen Roderick (113), Halley Drake (115) and Shae Lillie (117).
The NCS Div. II Championship was also held on Monday. Under the new format, Div. II players will not compete in the Tournament of Champion, NorCal or the state tournament. Division placement is based on school enrollment.

SCL champs Healdsburg and NBL runner-up Ursuline competed at Kelseyville’s Buckingham Country Club and both finished far back in the team standings.

Arcata was crowned champion with a four-girl total of 394. Justin-Siena was next at 399 followed by McKinleyville at 400.

Healdsburg finished with 433 strokes and Ursuline’s score was 521.

Scores used by the Greyhounds were: Katie Curry 102, Marita Wallace 103, Olivia Bean 111 and Gina Fonti 114.

Low score for Ursuline was Olivia Bertacco’s 124 and she was followed by Morgan Johnson 128, Ally Beazell 130 and Katie Walsh 139.

Two Empire golfers competed as individuals. St. Vincent’s Jessica Maynard shot a 96 and Kelseyville’s Liz Berry had a 104.

Sixty-eight girls played the par 72 course. Medalist honors went to McKinleyville’s McKenzie Ford with a 78.

In a ceremony at Buckingham, former Ukiah coach Elsie Nielsen was honored by NCS officials. She coached the Wildcats’ golf team for 24 years. Now 77, she retired seven years ago.