OXNARD — In preparation for the first round of the CIF individual playoffs Monday, Irene Maemura ventured to Ventura County over the weekend for a couple of practice rounds.
The Burbank High girls' junior golfer took part in the rounds at Olivas Links Golf Course in Ventura, which offers a similar course environment to that of nearby River Ridge Golf Club in Oxnard. It turned out to be a wise move on Maemura's part.
Maemura reaped the benefit Monday, as she carded a one-under-par 71 to finish in a four-way tie for fifth at the CIF Southern Section Northern Individual at River Ridge's Vineyard Course.
"It helped me out a lot with the practice sessions," said Maemura, a reigning All-Area pick who was one of seven competitors from the field of 106 to shoot under par. "I came [into Monday] feeling pretty good with my overall game.
"My driver mostly worked well and my putting was real good. I was able to get a good flow with my swing."
Maemura, who was among five area athletes to take part in the 18-hole round, was one of 36 players to advance to the Individual Championship and Women's Southern California Golf Assn. Qualifying Tournament at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 7 at Talega Golf Club in San Clemente. Among the other area athletes who will join her will be Burroughs' Joany Gao, who finished in a seven-way tie for 12th at 73 and Crescenta Valley's Jocelyn Chia (seven-way for 28th at 77). The cut on Monday was 77.
La Cañada's Melissa Leo, who took second in the Pacific League individual final Oct. 15 at River Ridge, shot a 79 to finish in a six-way tie for 42nd. Crescenta Valley's Andrea Han had an 81 to end up in a four-way tie for 51st on the 5,232-yard course.
Andrea Lee of Mira Costa carded a 66 to earn medalist honors and Diamond Bar's Bethany Wu finished runner-up with a 67.
Gao, who earned a spot on the All-Area team last season, said she was able to play a sturdy round after adapting to the course's greens.
"At league, the greens were pretty fast, but they were a bit slower this time around," Gao said. "My driver helped and I was able to stay steady with my putting.
"I'm definitely improving. I want to keep it up going into the next round. I want to qualify out of the next round. There's still a lot of good competition."
Chia, the reigning All-Area Girls' Golfer of the Year who has advanced to the CIF Southern Section Individual Final and Women's Southern California Golf Assn. Qualifying Tournament — the third round of individual play — the past three seasons, shot a 77 for the second straight time at River Ridge.
Following Monday's round, Chia said she wasn't sure if her score would be good enough to extend her season.
"I didn't know," said Chia, who won league championships in 2010, '11 and '12. "I wanted to qualify, but I wanted to do real well.
"I had some trouble and my putting wasn't normal. The course was real windy, more than it was during league."
Leo, a reigning All-Area honoree who finished second in league, said she's had difficulty with her overall game.
"My game seemed to be everywhere," Leo said. "I made some birdies, but I had some bogeys and two double-bogeys. I tried, but my game wasn't there. It wasn't my best year of golfing."
Crescenta Valley Coach Lee Pope said that while Han missed the cut, she will have additional opportunities beginning next season.
"She's a sophomore," Pope said. "She's been playing real well of late, and she just came up a few strokes short."
Crescenta Valley and Burroughs, which placed second and third in league, respectively, will next compete in the CIF Southern Section Eastern Team Divisional at 8 a.m. Thursday at Jurupa Hills Golf Course in Riverside.