Coach Matthew Corrigan got a golf tip a few years back: A promising elementary school girl was in the pipeline for his Great Neck District team, name of Lia Huang.
“My friend is a phys ed coach there,” Corrigan said. “He said, ‘You’ve got this girl coming up. She’s got a great swing.’ ”
Huang played in the Nassau girls championship tournament last year as a seventh-grader and finished third, 12 shots behind the eighth-grader who won, Jericho’s Renna Chang.
Now Huang, the eighth-grader at Great Neck North Middle School, was in the final group at Bethpage Green with Chang, the freshman. They were playing the second/final round of the county championship.
And this time Huang won, pulling away across the last five holes Tuesday to claim a three-shot victory over the defending champ.
“I’m pretty happy,” Huang said the day after her 14th birthday. “My score was consistent. I was able to save myself in difficult situations.”
She shot a 1-over 72 to finish at 3-over 145.
“Just because I won doesn’t mean I’m the best here,” Huang said. “But I feel like it will help me boost my confidence, and hopefully I can win more tournaments.”
Chang carded an even-par 71 and owned a two-shot lead over Huang after Monday’s first round on Bethpage Yellow. But she posted a 6-over 77 on the Green course.
“Of course, I’m disappointed,” Chang said. “But sometimes there’s just nothing you can do.”
Chang wasn’t herself on the back nine and closed with three bogeys.
The problem had to do with her tea time.
“I slept like four hours last night,” Chang said. “So on the front, I was OK. But on the back, I couldn’t really stay awake. I think I drank tea before I went to sleep. So I couldn’t sleep.”
Jericho coach Steve Bromberg said she “gutted this round out.”
“I think her future is as bright as it can be,” he said, “and I think this is going to be a wonderful learning experience.”
Caylin Wong, another eighth-grader with Great Neck District, placed third at 149. Great Neck took the team title and a berth in the Long Island championship against Smithtown West next Tuesday at Smithtown Landing.
“The depth of our team is unbelievable,” Corrigan said. “The quality of player from one through seven is really what makes our team special.”