Siranon Shoomee picked a great time for her best round ever.
The junior from Lee County High School fired a 5-under-par 67 at Longleaf Golf and Country Club to pull away from Gina Kim, the state’s No. 1 ranked player, to capture her second straight 3A state golf championship.
Shoomee, known by her friends as “Muk,” went into the final round two shots back of Kim after opening with a 71. And the shootout continued into day two as both girls played their first nines in 3-under – Kim on Longleaf’s front nine and Shoomee on what most consider the more difficult back nine.
While Shoomee remained consistent – sinking two more birdies and closing with six straight pars – it all unraveled for Kim, a freshman at Chapel Hill. A triple bogey on the par-3 12th, followed by bogeys at 13 and 14 ended her chances.
“The round she put together was by far her personal best,” said Mike Krick, her personal coach and head professional at Carolina Trace in Sanford where Shoomee calls home. “She’s worked very hard.”
When Shoomee won last year at Foxfire Resort, she shot 76-73 and was playing without a team.
This time, Lee County fielded a full team that finished fifth.
“This was my best round ever and my first time with never making a bogey,” Shoomee said. “It was nice to be able to repeat but this one was for my school. It’s more fun playing with a team because you get to spend more time with your friends.”
Megan Von Canon, also a junior, and Morgan McCrae, a freshman, made the trip with Shoomee this time around.
“The team will be better next year,” said Lee County coach Doc Snyder. “When we first started out five years ago we were horrible. But it’s been growing.”
Shoomee felt a bit of compassion for Kim after the uncharacteristic back nine.
“She’s one of my best friends,” Shoomee said. “She was waiting for me after the first round.”
Kim was impressed with Shoomee’s 67.
“That’s really good but I’m not very surprised,” Kim said. “She’s a very skilled golfer. I’m very proud for her winning and I congratulate her very much.”
The week prior to the state tournament, Kim won the Central Regional tournament while Shoomee settled for second at the East Regional.
“Gina has had a phenomenal 2014,” said Chapel Hill coach Jim Williams. “She played beautifully in all our matches and she played well for most of this tournament. She just got some tough breaks on the back nine.”
Her big mistake was hitting too much club on the uphill, par-3 12th.
“When I saw it land behind the green I said ‘you’ve got the wrong club Gina.’ I guess my course management wasn’t great on that hole.”
The ball bounded next to a bush, leaving her with no backswing. It took two shots to reach the putting surface and she proceeded to three-putt for the triple.
Kim’s 69-74 still finished six shots clear of third-place Riley Smyth of team champion Cardinal Gibbons. Smyth, also a freshman, shot 73-76.
Had it not been for the spectacular play of Shoomee, Kim would have another major title on her resume to go with strong play in state and national tournaments.
Although Chapel Hill doesn’t have a team, Kim still enjoyed some team success this fall. In September, she traveled to France to compete in the Evian Championship Juniors Cup as a member of team USA. Her 72-72 effort (13th individually) helped the USA claim victory.
She also recently qualified for the championship in Drive, Chip & Putt and will be at Augusta National next April to try to capture the national title.
But there was no stopping Shoomee in the state 3A tourney, which came just a couple months after she won the Peggy Kirk Bell Tour championship just down the road from Longleaf at Pine Needles Resort. It also came a day after she verbally committed to play collegiate golf at East Carolina.
The 138 total was the second best in state tournament history for the girls and the 67 matched the best ever. In 2003, Blair Lamb of East Henderson set the marks with 67-69 – 136 at Gates Four in Fayetteville. In five previous championships played at Longleaf, the best was Lamb’s 68-72 – 140 in 2004.
“We had a game plan and we talked a lot about it before the week even started,” Krick said. “We’ve moved from working so much on the swing to really changing to teaching her to play golf … being prepared for the pressure situations.
“This is not just Muk and her coach,” Krick added. “Her family base is wonderful. The support she gets and home and how she handles herself is all part of it.”