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Liz Choi leads Syosset golfers to LI championship

Syosset's Liz Choi tees off during the Long

Syosset's Liz Choi tees off during the Long Island girls golf team championships at Middle Island Country Club on Thursday, May 29, 2014. Photo Credit: Richard T. Slattery

After winning the Long Island championship, Syosset's golfers were able to tease their top player, Liz Choi, for her almost scripted explanation of her approach to the game.

During the match, though, it was not a laughing matter, as the junior's focused approach proved to be pivotal.

Choi shot a 3-over 74 to lead Syosset over Smithtown East, 432-438, in the Long Island girls golf championship Thursday at Middle Island Country Club.

"I take the same approach to every single golf tournament," Choi said, to the giggles of teammates.

Choi's approach to the game is consistent, as is her explanation of her game, an oft-repeated mantra about taking things one stroke at a time and "playing every shot like it's my last."

"I say that every time," Choi, the three-time defending Nassau County individual champion, said, laughing with her team.

While it may have prompted some good-natured ribbing from teammates, Choi's ability to take things stroke-by-stroke and not get discouraged paid dividends.

Though Choi bogeyed the par-5 12th hole, she responded by playing even-par golf for the remaining six holes, en route to the day's best score.

"Liz is a rock," Syosset coach Steve Naranjo said. "The girls feed off of her and they see the kind of energy she brings. They all look up to her."

On the team's success, Choi said she was "overjoyed," and added, "I'm so proud of my team and my coach and everyone who helped us along the way," thanking Naranjo, swing coach Jimmi Conway and Pine Hills Country Club.

"I'm very proud of them," Naranjo said of his team that also ended Garden City's eight-year reign as Nassau champions in last week's county championship.

"We worked really hard this season and it's nice that it paid off in the end," said sophomore Leah Cullen, who shot an 87.

Seventh-grader Malina Rudra, who shot an 89, said being able to contribute during her first year on the team "means the world to me."

Smithtown East sophomore Peyton Greco shot a 75, the day's second-best round.

For Choi and Syosset, it was a fitting way to end a season spent playing each shot like it's the last.

And that's no joke.

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