Chayse Gomez signed her letter-of-intent to attend Oregon State around sunrise on Nov. 14. The senior at Rosary High School then headed to Victoria Club in Riverside to play the most important round of her life.
Gomez would again sign her name several hours later, this time on her scorecard after shooting three-over par 75 to finish 12th out of 54 players at the CIF-State girls’ golf championships.
Gomez is the first girls’ golfer from the Trinity League to advance to the state championships, which were formed in 2004.
“I was really happy with how I composed myself and just took it one shot at a time,” Gomez said. “Just kind of forgot about the bad shots and grew from the good shots.”
The three-time Trinity League champion didn’t have to wait long to make a memorable shot.
She started her round on the back nine and birdied her second hole, rolling in a 20-foot putt on the par 3.
“I had a lot of long putts,” Gomez said. “I just couldn’t get the ball really close to the hole, so I was just like, ‘OK, you’ve just got to make all these long putts to succeed.’ “
Gomez faced her biggest mental challenge on her eighth hole, a par 5.
The sticky Bermuda rough caught her blade and she hit her second shot in the water. Gomez took a drop and then hit that ball in the water as well.
“That was pretty funny because I was like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s a little twist on my round,’ “Gomez said.
After finishing with a double-bogey on the hole, Gomez had another conversation with herself as she walked to the next tee box.
“I just thought, ‘OK, it’s still early in the round. You can still come back from it.’ “she said.
Gomez got a big break on hole No. 2, her 11th of the round. She sent her drive far to the left on the short par 4, but was surprised to discover she ended up with a clear view of the green.
“I just stuck it like eight feet from the hole,” she said of her second shot. “I made the putt and it was just great.”
Gomez would face one more challenge when she double-bogeyed No. 6. She felt like she worked so diligently to get back to one-over, but now was back to three-over.
She pumped herself back up and made par on each of the final three holes, finishing within the window she envisioned for herself.
“I was hoping to shoot even-par,” Gomez said. “I told myself, ‘Even if you don’t, don’t go anymore more than three-over, because I felt like that was my set round, between even and three-over.”
Oregon State coach Dawn Shockley is looking forward to watching Gomez’s dedication, skill and consistency.
“The first time I saw Chayse play I was impressed,” Shockley said. “She has the poise and maturity of a player much older than she is. It didn’t take long to realize that Chayse would be a great addition to our team after having her and her family on campus. You can tell a lot about someone after meeting their family and this family is one who we want to be a part of our family.”