Everything came together for Colin Li at the right time. He was admittedly struggling with his irons leading up to the 2023 CIF Boys Regional HS Championship, but that changed on his second hole of the day at Los Serranos GC.
He went straight at the pin with a four-iron on his second shot of the par-4 seventh hole and stuck it to two feet.
“After hitting that iron shot, it just kind of flipped a switch in me and from then on, everything was clicking.”
The tap-in birdie that ensued was just the start for the Torrey Pines HS junior. With two birdies in his first four holes, Li immediately put himself in the mix at the top of the leaderboard. He rattled off three more in as many holes to take the solo lead at five-under.
Li built his lead to three strokes after converting another pair of birdies, making it seven in 11 holes.
“My putting was great today, made a lot of mid range putts and long putts,” Li said. “Those gave me a lot of confidence and momentum.”
Despite back-nine charges from Capistrano Valley Christian’s Luke Powell and Ryan Abuan of Great Oaks, Li was able to hold them off with his eighth and ninth birdies of the day on Hole Nos. 1 & 3. Finishing with one of the lowest scores in this championship since 2013 (eight-under 66), Li’s teammates showered him with water upon learning that he had clinched the CIF Boys Regional individual title.
“It definitely gives me a lot of confidence going into next week knowing that I can shoot a deep score,” Li said. “Just overall good vibes heading into the state championship next week.”
It also marks the first Torrey Pines HS golfer to win a regional individual title. With the victory, Li earns exemptions to the 112th California Amateur Championship in June and the 124th SCGA Amateur Championship in July.
In the team competition, Tesoro HS captured its first ever CIF regional title in its first ever appearance in this championship. Anchored by a pair of 71’s from Ethan Block and Zander Grant, Tesoro finished at nine-under as a team, besting the field by four strokes. Keegan Gicking also scored an albatross on the par-5 16th hole.
“To win is really special for us,” head coach Van Johnstone said. “[Michael Block’s] two sons play for me so we feel there’s a certain amount of destiny behind this team right now…What we did today, this distinguishes them as the best team in school history.”
Winning Team Members (Tesoro Titans)
State Team Qualifiers
Torrey Pines Falcons
Oaks Christian Lions
State Individual Qualifiers
Colin Li (Individual Champion)