Ali Morallos sharp in Crosby Memorial Junior Golf Championship

Soon-to-be freshman Ali Moralles appears ready to play golf at the high school level.

Moralles recorded four birdies Wednesday and shot 2-under-par 72 at Recreation Park Golf Course to win the girls 12-14 division at the Crosby Memorial Junior Golf Championship. Just a day after a disappointing 4-over round at the Len Kennett Junior Championship at Lakewood Country Club, Moralles avoided big trouble and recorded the best score of the day by a girl, regardless of age division.

“I tried to focus more (after Tuesday’s round),” said Moralles, who will join an already strong squad at Wilson High in September, “and I tried to take advantage when opportunities came.”

Moralles was even through seven holes before birdieing Nos. 8 and 9 to finish the front 9 at 36. On No. 8, the 14-year-old drained a downhill birdie putt from about 40 feet. She added another birdie at No. 13 before bogeying the 17th. Still, Moralles finished well ahead of runner-up Kasey Torres (78) and third-place Joan Soewondo (82).

“My driver was consistent and I made some good putts,” Moralles said. “… It was much better than (Tuesday).”

Compton resident Nea Bennett earned a one-stroke victory in the girls 15-18 division, firing a 1-under 73 to edge Sachi Hamada. Bennett, 18, used an eagle at the par-5 7th to get to 3 under on the front before tiring on the back.
“Overall, it was a pretty good round,” said Bennett, who will play golf at Fullerton College in September. “My short game was good early.”

Orange County players dominated the boys divisions at Rec Park, with Irvine’s Lawrence Tu (16-18) and Ari Gulugian (14-15) and Johan Pedroza of Anaheim (12-13) winning. Tu, a 17-year-old senior-to-be at Northwood High, shot 3-under 69 to claim his division, edging Long Beach brothers Hunter (70) and Ryder (71) Epson. He birdied three of the first holes, and other than a double bogey at No. 6, Tu avoided trouble for most of the day. He also had a chip-in birdie on the par-3 16th.

“I didn’t go in the trees, and any chance for birdie that I had, I made,” said Tu. “I made a few errors, but that’s about it.”

Tu had never played Rec Park before, but he wanted to play a competitive round on the course before next week’s amateur qualifying tournament for the Long Beach Open.

Gulugian felt his putter let him down a little through his round of 2-under 70, but it was good enough to edge Cody Nakazaki of Manhattan Beach (71) and Long Beach’s Andrew Fernandes (72).

“I left a lot of putts out there that I could have made, should have made,” said Gulugian, the 15-year-old brother of 2011 Long Beach Women’s City Champion Ani Gulugian. “But I made a lot of good shots to give myself opportunities for birdies.

“Overall, it was a good round. I’m happy with it.”

Pedroza shot 76 to win his division, beating Diamond Brandon Lew of Los Angeles by three shots. Jacob Betts, Seth DeAnda and Patrick Tran all shot 80.

At Rec Park’s nine-hole course, Sebastian Vallejo of Torrance shot 32 to win the boys 10-11 division by two shots. Long Beach’s Phillip Vos won the 9-under division with a score of 45.

In the girls 11-under division, a two-hole playoff was needed to determine the winner. Kate Villegas of Arcadia and Angelina Kim of Los Angeles each shot 32 before Villegas won the playoff.

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