Derek Uyesaka, who coaches the boys’ and girls’ golf teams at Mater Dei High School, considers himself pretty decent with a club in his hand.
After all, he’s the Director of Instruction at David L. Baker Memorial Golf Course in Anaheim and played four years at UC Irvine, where he was an All-Big West Conference selection in 2006.
But he wouldn’t dare play Jakeishya Le for anything more than a firm handshake. Not the way she’s hitting the ball lately.
Le, a senior on the Mater Dei girls’ team, won the Trinity League individual championship by seven strokes late last month, shooting back-to-back rounds of 66—a combined nine-under par—at Costa Mesa Country Club and Dad Miller Golf Course in Anaheim.
“She might have the lowest-scoring average in school history at this point and she has been peaking coming into the CIF playoffs,” Uyesaka said. “You can’t ask for a better player. We saw that since her freshman year. We knew she was going to be a phenomenal player but I think we’re even a little surprised these last few weeks.”
Before her back-to-back rounds of 66, Le shot 6-under par 68 the week before to win the Ayala Fall Classic at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills, and then came back with a 4-under-par 31 in a nine-hole Trinity League match against Rosary, which kept the Monarchs undefeated in the regular season dating back to September 2011.
That put her at 19 under par in the four matches leading up to last week’s individual regional championships at Dad Miller, the first step toward qualifying for the state championships Nov. 18 at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga.
“That’s a pretty phenomenal streak,” Uyesaka said.
What sets Le apart from others is the amount of time she puts into perfecting her game, Uyesaka said.
“She has incredible work ethic and she dedicates her entire life to being the best golfer that she can,” Uyesaka said. “She’s also an excellent student, so she does have her priorities in order…but in her off time it’s all golf.”
Le’s hard work has paid off with consistency. During the regular season, time constraints and course availability limit the team to nine-hole matches. Only once this season has Le shot a round in the 40s.
“It’s all there; there’s no real weak points,” Uyesaka said of Le’s overall game. “She hits a lot of fairways, hits a lot of greens. She’ll roll in a birdie putt every once in a while, and that’s why her scores have been so good recently, because she has been making more putts.”
Le has committed to play golf next year at UC Riverside, where the sport was added in 1998. The Highlanders finished sixth out of eight teams in the Big West Conference championships last season, but adding a player of Le’s caliber should be a big lift for the program.
“They’ll be extremely happy to have her come along because it will just add to what they’ve already started to build there,” Uyesaka said.
With the type of talent Le figures to bring to UC Riverside, the school might build something else by the time she’s done.
A statue, perhaps?