Cochran Comes Up With Right Answer

Times Staff Writer

Amie Cochran had plenty of questions in her head Monday as she arrived at the PGA of Southern California Legends Course in Calimesa for what could have been her final tournament as a high school player.

She left with an emphatic answer.

Cochran, a senior at West Torrance, shot a four-under-par 68 for a five-stroke victory in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern California Women's Golf Assn. championship.

The victory erased the doubts that haunted her after finishing second in the Southern Section tournament three consecutive years and proved correct her decision to skip a major national junior tournament in Florida.

Cochran tied Candie Kung of Fountain Valley for the largest margin of victory in the history of the tournament, but that only begins to convey how impressive her round was on a cold, blustery day and on a course with fast, severely sloped greens.

Nobody else in the 110-player field shot par or better. Only 16 players broke 80 and 31 of them failed to break 100, yet Cochran had four birdies and an eagle to go along with two bogeys. She hit 16 greens in regulation and did not have a three-putt. Songyi Yi of Rancho Bernardo, runner-up last year, was second.

"It was smooth sailing," said Cochran, who acknowledged wondering if a high school victory was ever going to come. "All I did was hit greens and make putts. To me, it didn't seem that difficult."

Last year, Cochran missed the section title by a stroke and the CIF-WSCGA title by two strokes. The year before, she was two strokes from the section title and in 2000 missed out by a stroke. Several top players opted to accept invitations to the Florida tournament, but Cochran, who has signed with UCLA, decided to try for the high school trophy that had eluded her.

"It was one of the better decisions I have ever made," Cochran said. "I haven't had a very good senior year, so this kind of helps."

Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula was nearly as dominant in the team competition. The Panthers shot 410 and won by 30 strokes over section champion Goleta Dos Pueblos. It is the second consecutive CIF-WSCGA team title for the Panthers.

Jane Lee led the way with a 76, Annika Windon had an 80, Shannon Yocum had an 81, Colette Lowe had an 84 and Stephanie Yocum had an 89.

Peninsula, Dos Pueblos and third-place Alhambra Keppel will represent Southern California today in the first state championships for girls. The top six individuals also advance. Tee times run from 8-10:15 a.m.

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