After tying for third place at the Central Coast Section golf championships, four shots behind the winner, St. Francis junior Nancy Xu went back to work.
With only a week to prepare for the Northern California championships, she focused on her short game and putting -- two areas that would help her score.
The extra work paid off as Xu won the NorCal title in a playoff.
"NorCal is my most significant memory this year," she said.
But not her only memory. In 12 matches this season, Xu was the medalist nine times. For her accomplishments, she is the Mercury News girls golfer of the year.
At the NorCal championships in Stockton, Xu had five birdies and zero bogeys in regulation to force a sudden-death playoff against Justin-Siena's Kathleen Scavo.
In the playoff, Xu was left with an 18-foot putt past the hole.
"The putt was fairly nasty, a downhill putt sloping right to left," Xu said. "At the last second, the ball curved left and went into the middle of the cup. It was the best feeling I ever had in golf."
Xu birdied the par-5, 503-yard hole to win the title.
In addition to the NorCal title, she also won the West Catholic Athletic League golf tournament, shooting a league record 4-under 68.
"She's had quite a season," St. Francis coach Phil Marrone said. "She has the ability to go low and keep going. She takes it one shot at a time."
For Xu, winning NorCal will be a day she remembers for
"It was my first major win in high school golf," she said. "That day is unforgettable -- how well things went for me. And, yes, my putting went very well."
Her coach says she plays smart, steady golf.
And, her plan in the days before NorCal championships was right on target.
"For NorCal, she was savvy enough to understand that there is not a lot you can do in one week that will have a dramatic effect on how you are striking the ball," Marrone said.
"But you can always sharpen up your short game. She made 67 look easy. It was a heck of a round of golf -- one good shot after another."
GIRLS golf TEAM
Valley Christian, So.
St. Ignatius, Fr.
Valley Christian, Sr.
Hutchison, Pioneer, So.
Los Altos, Jr.
San Mateo, Fr.
Jayshree Sarathy, Gunn, Jr.
St. Francis, Fr.
St. Francis, Jr.
Anna Zhou, Gunn, So.