PORTERVILLE — For someone getting ready to leave for college early, Madi Daniel is sure making the most of her waning days in high school.
The Bakersfield Christian senior shot a 3-under-par 69 to win the Central Section girls golf individual championship on Monday at River Island Country Club in Porterville.
Daniel was a model of consistency with four birdies and suffered through just two bogeys all day, on consecutive holes.
“Today was a good day,” Daniel said. “I got my putting under control… that’s a good thing. Everything today just fell in my favor. I got some good breaks.”
Next up for Daniel is the CIF Southern California regional championship Nov. 9 at Canyon Crest Country Club in Riverside.
Claire Cornejo of Garces and Gillian Galicia of Liberty also will advance to the SoCal regionals after both shot a 6-over 78. Stockdale’s Bethany Anderson earned the final individual qualifier to SoCal in a cart-off over Liberty’s Reagan Barton and Maddie Berry of Stockdale. All three shot an 87.
Daniel beat out Clovis West teammates Madison Nii and Taylor Dufresne by two strokes for the individual title.
The fact that Daniel could have shot even better, with a half dozen birdie putts fell just short of the hole shows how solid her hitting was all day despite missing a few putts.
Despite that frustration that could take most players out of rhythm, Daniel stayed cool, calm and collected throughout the round.
“I had a ton of confidence and my swing felt great,” Daniel said. “I was hitting it really well.”
River Island can be a tricky course. It plays tight with most fairways surrounded by trees or water hazards.
Daniel, who averages around 285 yards off the tee, put away her driver most of the day, instead going for shots in the fairway.
That decision lent itself well as Daniel hit the greens in regulation in 17 of the 18 holes.
“I’m pretty much a power player, so a couple of these holes really are kind of goofy,” Daniel said. “Being able to restrain myself from driver and hitting a couple irons off the tee. It was about being in control today and playing smart more than anything.”
Daniel will sign with Oregon on Nov. 8, enrolling for classes beginning on Jan. 8 in Eugene.
Playing in the shadows the previous three years behind Stockdale graduate and four-time BVarsity Girls Golfer of the Year Lexi Keene, who is now in her freshman year at Northern Arizona, Daniel knew she was in line to take the crown in the section this year.
“I’ve been right there for three years,” Daniel said. “Coming out here and really showing everybody and this course what I’ve got, that was a really part of today. “It was awesome. I am super excited and super nervous. I just wanted to remind people that this is why I am going early and show them what’s up.”
Daniel is the second consecutive player from Bakersfield to win the section individual title after Keene won the title last season.
“It was a really great win today,” Daniel said.
Clovis West won the team title with a team score of 376, beating out Clovis East (440). Both teams will advance to the SoCal regionals.
Liberty finished in fourth overall in Division I with a team score of 462, led by Galicia and Barton.
Frontier finished in fifth at 469, led by an 89 by Amy James and Anderson led Stockdale to a sixth and final spot in D-I.