Golfer gets home course advantage

Washougal’s Sakamoto wins 2A district tournament at Orchard Hills

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Kallie Sakamoto tees off at Orchard Hills Country Club at the district tournament on May 15.

For three years, Kallie Sakamoto’s home golf course has been just a few hundred yards south of Washougal High School (WHS). Orchard Hills Country Club is where she honed her skills with countless practice rounds after school and on weekends as a member of the Washougal High girls golf team. It also is where she put those skills to work competing against other schools during three full seasons as the top golfer at WHS.

Sakamoto said she was thrilled to learn the 2A district golf tournament was going to be held on a course she knows so well.

“There’s no doubt, it’s an advantage, because I play tons of practice rounds here, so having the knowledge about the front and back sides in my back pocket is pretty cool,” Sakamoto said.

On May 15, her first day of tournament play, Sakamoto scored an even par front nine, using her course knowledge to save par on hole six after pushing her second shot into a large tree.

“I’ve been there before, so I managed to hit a good shot close to the hole and save par,” Sakamoto said, after finishing the first day of the district competition in first place with a score of 74.

Her goal going into the tournament was to shoot a 75 on the first day, so beating her goal by a stroke put a smile on her face.

“Overall, it was a pretty clean round. I enjoyed my time out here. It was really fun,” Sakamoto said.

On day two of the district tournament, Sakamoto continued her consistent play, firing yet another round of 74 and easily winning the district championship. She beat the second place finisher by 26 strokes. She also won the district tournament last season, even after missing a month of the season with injuries.

Focusing on fun in the postseason

A senior bound for college, Sakamoto said she is focused on having fun in the postseason.

“I’m just trying to play smart and do my thing. When something doesn’t go right, like my driver, then I’m going to put it away for the day and forget about it,” she said. “I’m telling myself whatever happens, I’m just going to have fun and enjoy the experience.”

Sakamoto will play golf for Aurora University in Illinois in the fall.

The state tournament was held May 22-23 at Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland.

Unlike Orchard Hills, Sakamoto had never played Horn Rapids before, but said a week before the tourney that she planned to head to Richland a few days early to play a practice round.

“I can tell you I absolutely had a blast playing the district tournament on my home course,” she said. “Now I’m really looking forward to having fun at state.”

Last year, Sakamoto finished second at the state tournament, held at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane.

As of this paper’s press deadline, Sakamoto had a first-round score of 78, and was six strokes behind the leader.