Westview's Alexa Udom wins state medalist
Alexa Udom drew her putter straight back and followed through, emphatically hitting the final shot of her sophomore season true, over a slight bump, speeding toward instant stardom.
The ball followed an invisible line and barreled to the bottom of the 18th cup at Trysting Tree Golf Course in Corvallis, sealing a huge birdie and microscopic 70 in the second round of the Class 6A state championship tournament on Tuesday. The clutch putt cajoled a small fist pump from the soft-spoken Westview sophomore who looked toward the clear blue sky and let out a sigh of relief.
It wasn't until minutes later that Udom learned just how huge that putt, and the gorgeous approach onto the green prior to that, really was.
The birdie wasn't just Udom's fourth of the day, it brought the Wildcat into a two-way tie with Lake Oswego senior Tya Seth atop the 6A leaderboard. Once all the scores were tallied, Udom and Seth were all alone at the top, shooting 142 over the two days to share top medalist honors and split the individual state crown.
"I had high hopes for me and myself, but I definitely did not expect this," Udom said with a smile. "Leading up to this my team and I worked our butts off. We kept grinding and preparing for this moment. I haven't won a big tournament in a while and this is big."
Udom saved par on the 17th green with a money 10-foot putt from far range to set up the dramatic finale on the 18th hole. Since players aren't allowed to look at their phones during tournament play and they don't have caddies walking with them, Udom had no idea where she stood in the standings, other than she was in the last group trekking through Trysting Tree. Udom's second shot was a beauty, a lofting mid-range missile that pierced through the strong breeze blowing above the fairway, plunked on the green and took a well-placed roll toward the hole. From there, Udom putted for the dough and was straight cash.
"I knew I had to commit myself 100 percent to the putt," Udom said. "I lined it up and committed."
What's ironic about Udom's scalding scores is the sophomore said she wasn't "very comfortable" with her swing after a shaky practice round days before state. A skull session with one of Westview's assistants helped Udom get in the right frame of mind. Udom had just two bogies on the second day of the tournament, one on a par-five. Otherwise, Udom was super solid with 12 pars and the aforementioned four birdies, including a big bird on the 470-yard 14th hole, the second-longest at Trysting Tree. Udom shot an even-par 72 on Monday.
"Walking into the tournament, something just clicked," Udom said. "I don't what it was, but I was able to perform and execute. Every shot I asked myself what I needed to do and that helped me to stay in the moment and focus on the present and not look to the future."
Unfortunately, as a team, Westview couldn't capitalize on Udom's breakout performance, taking runner-up behind Jesuit who shot a blistering 603 over two days to break the state record by 24 strokes. Westview's 612 would've broke the state record as well, had it not been for the scalding Crusaders. Senior May Wang and junior Jessica Ponce tied for 13th overall (153). Senior Cassidy Krauss placed 30th and Jennifer Kang tied for 38th. Udom, Kang and Ponce should be back for Westview, who won the 6A state title last year.
"Everybody played hard, Jesuit just played better than us, that's it," Udom said. "They did amazing. They did so well. Losing Cassidy and May will be tough for us, but we have a few freshmen coming in, so we should be good."