For Vera Markevich, the Desert Valley League girls golf individual championship was a surprise. For Jiyoon Jang, it was a third straight year of frustration and disappointment.
Markevich, a junior from Xavier Prep, fired a 5-under 67 Thursday, including a hole in one and three closing birdies, to score a one-shot victory over Jang of Palm Desert in the two-day DVL finals. Jang shot 73 Thursday to go with a 69 Tuesday for a 36-hole total of 143.
“I was like five shots back when I was starting my round today, so I wouldn’t think I would make it because the player who was in first place the first day is a really strong player,” said Markevich, a Russian student studying at Xavier Prep.
Markevich’s two-day total of 3-under 141 at the Valley Course at Marriott’s Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert included a first-round 74 Tuesday. But a hole in one of the par-3 15th hole from 140 yards, the sixth hole for the players on their round, jumped started Markevich’s round. But Jang still led by four shots after nine holes. Jang bogeyed the first two holes of the back nine to help Markevich and Palm Desert’s Kiki Liu back into contention. A Jang birdie on the third hole, the 12th hole of the day, was matched by a Markevich birdie on the fourth.
As Jang made pars on her last five holes, Markevich made two pars and then made three straight birdies to close the round, all from inside 10 feet. On the final hole, the par-5 ninth, Jang missed her birdie putt from about four feet. Markevich, who had laid up on the hole after a drive behind a tree, putted from just inside Jang and rolled the birdie putt home for the victory.
“I feel like this is a déjà vu moment from last year and the year before,” said Jang, who won the DVL title as a freshman but has finished second three consecutive years. “So it sucks. I think I just put too much pressure on myself. Because honestly, when I won this freshman year I didn’t think it was a tournament. I thought it was just a qualifier. After I realized what it was and what it meant, especially to me, I started putting way too much pressure on myself.”
While Markevich was surprised at the result, Xavier head coach Debbie Koyama said she wasn’t surprised.
“Maybe earlier in the season I might have been a little surprised, but she has done it in a junior tournament recently, so I know that it is possible for her,” Koyama said. “She is very determined. No matter what happens. I have seen a lot of young girls stumble and not be able to pick themselves back up. But she is like no other.”
Markevich said the hole in one, with an 8-iron, did change her round.
“I was actually really nervous after a couple of holes and I was like, oh gosh, I need to do something,” Markevich said. “So I just hit it and it went in.”
Markevich, Jang and Liu, who finished third at even-par 144 including a 73 Thursday, led a group of seven players from the DVL into the CIF-Southern Section individual regionals Monday at the Dad Miller Golf Course in Anaheim. Also moving into postseason play Lily Rodriguez, Madison Rincon, Madison Walker and Madison Vance, all of Palm Desert High School.