Santa Barbara High’s Melia Haller had earned medalist honors 12 times in the regular season. She then did herself one better on Tuesday, winning the Channel League Individual Championship at par-71 Rancho San Marcos.
“It feels good. Last year I was really close but Gabby (Minier) was here. But she graduated this year so I had high hopes going into this year,” Haller said.
Haller, who carded a 74 on Monday to hold a five-stroke lead, fired a 79 on Tuesday to finish with a 153.
She just held off junior teammate Lizzie Goss who carded a match-low 77 on Tuesday after shooting a 79 on Monday to finish with a score of 156.
“I feel good. I feel like yesterday I had a lot more extreme holes where I made five birdies, but I had one hole where I was 5-over par, whereas today I was super consistent,” Goss said.
Haller held a six-stroke lead after playing the front-nine on Tuesday, but Goss made up some ground on No. 10 where she parred while Haller double-bogeyed.
After quadruple bogeying No. 15, Haller’s lead was just three strokes with three holes to play.
On No. 16, Goss nearly aced the par-3 hole with her shot just running over the lip. Goss didn’t convert the subsequent birdie opportunity and would settle for par while Haller nailed a deep, 40-foot putt to finish with a birdie.
“Hitting that birdie really helped me for the last three holes because I knew I needed at least one birdie in the final three,” Haller said.
From there, Haller would take a four-stroke lead to eventually win by three. On No. 18, Goss putted with a chance for an eagle, but her roll came up just short. She nailed the next putt to finish the day with a birdie.
“I definitely felt like I got unlucky on some of my putts. I left out on a few for the opportunities, but overall, I felt pretty good. Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty good over the ball, which makes a huge difference,” Goss said.
Also moving on to the CIF Regional on Monday at Soule Park in Ojai will be San Marcos’ Alex Manion, who shot 80 in the second round for a total of 162 in the tournament to finish in third.
For the fourth and final spot in the regional, Allie Womack of Santa Barbara and Morgan Blunt of Santa Ynez were forced into a playoff.
“It was very, very nerve-wracking,” Blunt said.
The two played the par-5 1st hole, with Womack teeing off first, but it was Blunt who was more effective in getting to the green faster. She hit a chip shot on her third shot to get within 10 yards from the hole.
Blunt, a senior, would birdie the hole to clinch the final spot and get the opportunity to play in her first regional.
“I’m actually very happy because I was not ready for golf to end. Compared to all the other sports I play it was always like the shortest season so it’s nice to keep it going,” Blunt said.
Blunt was in sixth place coming into the final 18 holes but carded a 92 to finish with a 187, same as Womack after she tallied a 94 on the day.
“I didn’t think this (making the top four) would happen. I definitely think I did better today than yesterday so I’m happy about that. My goal was to break 80 but I am not mad with how I played,” Blunt said.
San Marcos’ Sofia Tasca finished in sixth after carding a 197. She came into Tuesday’s match in fourth place, but a few bad holes which she was 5-over par or more led to her shooting a 108.
All top six finishers earned first-team All-Channel League honors.
Second-team All-Channel League went to Santa Barbara’s Aoife Braverman (198), Santa Ynez’s Marina Vengel (202), Cabrillo’s Kelsey Bruner (208), Santa Ynez’s Bridget Callaghan (210), Santa Ynez’s Ryann Melville (213) and Cabrillo’s Ellie Mendibles (216).