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Golf notebook: Freshman Udom outshines the competition

Westview’s powerful Melinee Udom averaged 71.0 in winning four Metro tournaments; Summit Takes 5A Boys State Preview

Westview's Melinee Udom is registered to play in a U.S. Women's Open Qualifier in Seattle on April 30.  (Photo by Jesse Udom)

Westview’s Melinee Udom is registered to play in a U.S. Women’s Open Qualifier in Seattle on April 30. (Photo by Jesse Udom)

Despite two older cousins ​​playing Division I women’s college golf, Melinee Udom had little interest in sports as a young girl, but invested her time in gymnastics and weightlifting.

But that all changed during the COVID shutdown in 2020, when Udom was in fifth grade.

“I was really focused on Olympic weightlifting because I had placed at the nationals the year before, and I was really motivated to do better the next year,” says Udom, now a freshman at West view. “But that didn’t happen because of COVID, so I switched to golf.”

Udom spent her days practicing and playing Alexa And Momo Udomwho graduated from Westview in 2020 and 2022 and now plays at Brigham Young and Portland State, respectively.

“I definitely learned a lot from them,” said Udom, whose personal coach is her uncle Charlie, the father of Alexa and Momo. “That’s why I improved so quickly.”

Udom took off like a rocket, rising to become the Oregon Junior Golf Association girls player of the year in 2023. And now, in her first season of high school, she’s dominating.

Udom has won all four Metro League tournaments, with an average score of 71.0. She fired a 3-under 69 on April 8 at Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club and followed with a 1-under 70 on April 15 at Pumpkin Ridge.

“Her talent goes far beyond being a freshman,” coach Westview Paul Gouldsbrough said. “It’s as good as high school, if not some college players. She’s just one of those rare talents. There is no doubt she is one of the top two or three in the state.”

The 6-foot-4 Udom blows the competition away with her power off the tee. She typically drives the ball 270 to 285 yards.

“If I catch it right, it could be 290, 300,” said Udom, whose personal best round was a 6-under 66 at Desert Princess in Palm Springs, California.

To what extent does she attribute her strength to the strength training of her youth, when as a 98-pounder she recorded 105 pounds in the clean and jerk.

“I definitely think that helped,” Udom said. “When I play out of state, I’m usually the longest hitter by 30, 40 yards. That gives me a big advantage.”

It puts Udom in a class of its own. The Metro is one of the top leagues in the state, but Udom has won the four tournaments by seven, three, eight and seven strokes.

“She’s so much longer off the tee that she could probably play in the boys’ league, to be honest,” Gouldsbrough said. “She puts wedges in her hand for second shots. Every time you put a wedge in the hands of a player of that caliber, they place it close to the pin and give themselves birdie opportunities.

“She doesn’t hit it everywhere. Generally it’s in the middle.”

Udom excelled on the junior circuit in Oregon last summer, winning the Eastern Oregon Junior Championship at Buffalo Peak, the Peter Jacobsen Junior Challenge at Trysting Tree and the Oregon Junior Stroke Play Championship at Chehalem Glenn. In the latter case, she shot even par and won the 54-hole tournament by six strokes.

Udom will face a big test on April 30 when she competes in a US Women’s Open Qualifier at Rainier Golf and Country Club in Seattle.

“I definitely just want to gain experience because I’m playing with a bunch of great golfers,” Udom said. “It would be great if I could qualify, but I’m just going to try to play as best as I can. It’s 36 holes, so it gets quite tiring.”

Udom hopes to cap off her freshman high school season with a 6A individual title. She could rival her cousin Alexa, who shared the 6A title in 2018.

Udom believes her game is on the rise after scoring 71 and 74 in her first two tournaments.

“To be honest, it started off a little rough,” she said. “There were definitely things I could have done better. I think I have shown in the last two tournaments what I can do under difficult circumstances.

“I’m starting to play a little better than at the beginning of the season, but I definitely think I can do a lot better. My putting is just good. If I can make a lot more putts, I can go a lot lower.”

Highlights of the past week:

Girls

Clackamas freshmen Jessi Tontag won a Mt. on Wednesday. Hood Conference tournament at Columbia Edgewater and shot a 4-over 75. … Wilsonville dominated a Northwest Oregon Conference tournament at Stone Creek on Tuesday, beating the runner-up seed La Salle Preparation 337-418 behind the top two finishers, sophomores Layla Sidhu (77) and Evie Dunn (78). … Nieuwberg senior Gabby Zielsdorf fired a 78 to win by one stroke Forest grove‘S Trinity Johnson And McMinnville‘S Mabel Findley in a Pacific Conference tournament on Tuesday at The Reserve Vineyards. …

Salem Academy took first place in the 13-team Mallard Creek Invitational on Monday, shooting 349 to beat second place Nelson (376). Salem Academy Chloe Johnston (80) and Alexandra Willcoxen (84) finished 1-2. …Senior Jill Potter (77) and junior Sylvia Czarnecki (79) posted 1-2 to lead Sheldon to first place in a Southwest Conference tournament Monday at Eugene Country Club. Sheldon shot 341 and won by six strokes Subsidy pass.

Boys

Meeting pulled away to win the 5A State Preview at Quail Valley on Wednesday. The Storm shot 304 to beat Wilsonville (322), Glencoe (323) and Newberg (323). Top senior Jacob Hansen (71), who carded an eagle on the 474-yard, par-five 10th hole, beating freshman teammate Bryden Ditty (73) for medalists. So were the Storm’s other top scorers Bryce Grieb (79), Owen Harper (81) and Smoke Maxwell (81). Wilsonville Jr Michael Flaherty finished third at 74. … Summit also won the 12-team Lava Bear Open at Bend Golf Club on Monday. Grieb (74) won the tournament by one stroke over Hansen, as the Storm surpassed the runner-up Mountain view 305-320. …

Jesuit won a Metro League tournament at Pumpkin Ridge on Tuesday, shooting 296 and beating Westview (302) and Mountainside (304). Crusaders senior Mason Zimmerman fired a 72 to win by one stroke against the Mountainside freshman Kai HangJesuit senior Grady Brown and Westzicht senior Andy Yang. … Molalla junior Massimo Ceregino continued his stellar play, shooting a 5-under 67 to win the nine-team Mallard Creek Invitational on Monday. Cereghino had an eagle on the par-four 16th hole. Last week he shot a 6-under 65 to win the North Marion Invitational at Langdon Farms. …

Sherwood‘S Cohen Gladheim shot a 4-under 68 to win by four strokes to Newberg’s Ray Greller and Glencoes Brody Landaker in a Pacific Conference tournament Monday at The Reserve Vineyards. Sherwood (297) and Glencoe (317) were the top teams. … Crescent Valley sharp Corvallis 333-338 to win a Mid-Willamette Conference tournament Monday at Corvallis Golf Club, led by the medalist, Cole Rivers (74). … Cascade senior Kyler Sky Beach shot a 74 to beat North bend‘S Owen Bascom by two strokes for the title in the 11-team Bar Run Marshfield Invitational on Monday. Cascade shot 335 for first place over Sheldon (346).