CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, CA (July 30, 2016) -- San Jose resident Sabrina Iqbal picked up a California Women’s Amateur Championship title in her debut, doing it on one of golf’s greatest stages.
Iqbal, a junior at Pioneer High, scratched a CWAC win off her rapidly growing list of achievements, defeating Palo Alto resident Anna Zhou, 4 and 3, in Saturday’s 18-hole final at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Along with playing in her first CWAC championship, it marked the first time that Iqbal had ever played Pebble Beach. Following Friday’s semifinals at Quail Lodge Resort, Iqbal and her father, Shaheen, only took a look at the course from a cart.
“It’s awesome to win and do it at Pebble Beach. This is one that I wanted to win ,” said Iqbal, who joins Mina Harigae, Juli Inkster and Patty Sheehan as champions of the event. “It’s great to be a part of that list.”
Entering the final, Zhou, a sophomore at Harvard, had never trailed in any of her four previous matches. That changed right off the bat, as Iqbal took a 1-up lead on the opening hole.
On the scenic par-4 8th, Zhou got it back to all-square when Iqbal three-putted for a double-bogey. After that, however, it was all Iqbal.
Having already verbally committed to Texas Christian University, Iqbal won hole No. 9 with a par and then won hole No.10 after sinking a 15-foot birdie putt to grab a 2-up lead.
On both the 11th and 12th holes, a door appeared to open for Zhou when Iqbal found two greenside bunkers. But Iqbal didn’t flinch, making two great up-and-downs for pars to maintain her lead.
“I was excited to hit those bunker shots. Bunker shots used to not be my favorite,” said Iqbal, who had Shaheen, a PGA teaching professional at Los Lagos GC on the bag as caddie . “I didn’t play all that great early on. After the 9th hole I was like, ‘Okay, I’m getting better.’”
Still 2-up, on the 13th Iqbal drained a quick downhill 11-footer for another birdie to increase her lead. To cap the match, she’d sink yet another birdie putt on the 15th green.
From the 9th to 15th holes, Iqbal went 3-under. Not bad for your first round at Pebble Beach. Not bad either for starting your day at 3:30 a.m. Iqbal, her father and mother and brother Sebastian left San Jose for their 6:30 a.m. tee time at 4 a.m.
“I putted really well today. Anna played well, too,” said Iqbal, whose other wins this year include the NCGA Junior Championship and San Francisco City. “It was fun.”
For Zhou, the tables finally turned, as she was never able to grab a lead despite playing holes No.9 through No.15 at only 1-over.
“I was a little disappointed in my game but Sabrina played really well,” said Zhou, who had her brother Andy on the bag as caddie. “It was great being out here at Pebble. I was just trying to make the most of it.”
Over her five matches, Iqbal only trailed over two holes. She was down two with two to play in her quarterfinals match at Quail Lodge, but played the 17th, 18th and eventually 19th holes at 2-under to avoid elimination.“That match was a real test for me. All I wanted to do was try to get it back to all-square. Winning that one was a big boost,” Iqbal said.
Being that it was the 50th anniversary of the CWAC, the final was held at Pebble Beach. The championship, founded by women’s golf legend Helen Lengfeld in 1967, was held at Pebble Beach through 1986.
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