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Shining star Kelly Xu leads CHS girls golf team

Claremont has such a young girls golf team, Coach Terrance Lynch could only bring six players to Tuesday’s Palomares League match against Ayala because that’s all he could fit in the van.

“I am so young, I have no one driving,” he said just before the start of the match at Los Serranos Golf Club in Chino Hills.

What he has is five sophomores and one junior. But he also has some serious talent in that young group of girls.

Claremont’s shining star on the links, Kelly Xu, is back and she is better than ever.

The sophomore did so well in tournaments during the off season, she is now ranked 14th in the country for under 18 amateurs by the American Junior Golf Association.

“She is off the charts. She is a great kid who is super humble and she is still a workhorse and now world-ranked golfer,” Coach Lynch said. “We love every minute she is with us because we know that she is a talent we will never see again. People laugh and say ‘you will be able to say you coached her.’”

During the summer she practices six or seven hours a day, but now that school has started she can only put in hours after classes each day.

Even with that success, as her coach noted, Xu does not bring an air of self-importance to the high school matches.

“On this team we are all friends and we are all equal and look up to each other,” she said before the Ayala match. “It’s not a big deal for me to be a team leader. It is great getting to know these people and playing golf with them, since golf is such a connecting sport.”

Last season Xu tied for fourth in the California State Finals. She fell behind in the first few holes, but pulled off a remarkable comeback.

“My game was on and off that day, it wasn’t where I wanted it to be. It was really dramatic because I was able to come back after backing myself into a corner and coming back at the last possible time,” she said.

Number-two seed Maddie Stout is the top returner aside from Kelly. She also put in a lot of time during the off season and it shows in her game, according to Coach Lynch. Third is Mikala Purugganan, who was number five last year, but who also competed in tournaments this summer and got more serious about golf.

The league is now at six teams with Rowland and Azusa joining Glendora, Wilson, Ayala and Claremont.

“It is nice we now to have ten league matches instead of six and I think it’s a three-team race between us, Glendora and Ayala. So, this is a big match today,” Coach Lynch said.

Unfortunately, it did not go as planned for the Pack and they lost 216-243 to the Bulldogs. Xu had the day’s low score with a one under par 36.

“It’s always harder to play here at Los Serranos, it’s longer which makes it difficult for our girls. It’s the longest course they will play on all year,” Coach Lynch said.

The Pack had a chance to even the score with a rematch against Ayala at Marshall Canyon Golf Course after press time Thursday.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com

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