GLENDALE — Tammy Panich heard varying opinions about Olivas Links Golf Course and decided to play a practice round.
Panich, a sophomore on the Glendale Community College women's golf team, figured it would be best to learn the nuances of the Ventura County course so that she would be better prepared for the two-day Western State Conference championship. She found the round to be quite helpful and enjoyed a windfall.
Panich finished with four birdies and shot a two-under-par 72 on Monday to win the conference championship. Panich, who recorded a 73 on Sunday and finished with a two-day 145, became the first Vaquero to win a conference crown in the program's short history.
"I went up there and did a practice round Friday and I was able to get a better idea of what it's like," said Panich, who was one of 12 athletes from the field to move on to the Southern California Regionals, which will take place Sunday and Monday at the Alisal River Golf Course in Solvang. "I heard from people that it was easy and hard and that it was a long course.
"I felt very positive going into my two rounds and I had a good start [Monday]. I was able to stay focused and it feels good to win conference."
Panich, a Glendale High graduate and a former All-Area member, bested Malea Miller of Bakersfield by four strokes in the 36-hole competition. Miller shot a 75 on Monday to finish at 149.
Panich began Monday's round on the fifth hole, where she recorded the first of her four birdies. She followed up with a birdie on the sixth hole and later birdied the 15th and fourth holes.
Glendale college first-year Coach Greg Osbourne said Panich could not be stopped.
"Coming into the season, she wanted to win the conference championship," Osbourne said. "She's so steady and that's her main strength.
"We worked on some swing adjustments, which led to her hitting the ball straight. It took a little time for her to understand it, but she got it. Everything has come true and she's a dominant force in our conference."
Panich was the lone Vaquero to move on. Louise Wright shot a 92 to finish at 173, Diana Hernandez had an 88 for a 180 and Imelda Treto carded an 88 for 188. The Vaqueros finished fourth in conference behind College of the Canyons, Bakersfield and Santa Barbara City colleges.
The top 12 from the regional will advance to the state tournament, which will be held Nov. 15 at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills.