Osborn’s 68 Wins Section Title

Times Staff Writer

It’s fitting that the first word Jennifer Osborn could come up with was “cool.”

Cool is how she played during a history-making victory in the Southern Section girls’ golf individual finals Thursday at Mission Lakes Country Club in Desert Hot Springs.

Osborn, a senior from Huntington Beach Marina, hit a sand wedge to within 18 inches and made a birdie on her final hole to cap a tournament-record-tying, three-under-par 68.


It was good for a one-shot victory over 2001 champion Nicole Smith of Riverside King, Henna Cho of Cerritos Gahr and defending champion Angela Park of Torrance. Osborn became the first girls’ player to win the Southern Section and Southern California regional titles in a career.

Only Tiger Woods, winner of both titles in 1991, had previously accomplished the double. Candie Kung of Fountain Valley, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, lost a playoff for the section title in 1998, then won the regional.

“Wow,” an almost-speechless Osborn said of her accomplishment. “That’s really cool.”

Her 68 tied the record set by Yon Yim of Irvine Woodbridge in 1996 at the inaugural section championship for girls’ golf.

Osborn, who has committed to Arizona State, had five birdies and two bogies in a round that added a section title to her 2002 California Interscholastic Federation-Women’s Southern California Golf Assn. title. She said she didn’t think it would be good enough to win.

“I played OK,” she said. “It was nothing spectacular. I thought somebody would shoot seven under.”

Park, a junior, and Smith, a senior headed for Tennessee, were each trying to become the first repeat section champion, and both had their chances.

Park was kicking herself for a putting lapse when she three-putted the seventh hole for bogey and four-putted No. 8 for a double bogey.

Smith, who won the title as a freshman, came to her last hole, the par-three second, at three under but three-putted for bogey, allowing Osborn to win the title without a playoff.

The top 28 golfers advance to the regional, which is Monday at the SCGA Golf Club in Murrieta. The state championship will be played Tuesday at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga.

It is the third top-10 finish in the section championship in three tries for Osborn. She skipped the tournament last year to play in a national junior event.

“I’m glad I got to play this year,” she said. “It was pretty cool.”