In her five seasons as a varsity golfer, Malini Rudra had already established herself as one of the top girl golfers in Nassau. On Tuesday afternoon, she staked her claim as the county’s best.
The Syosset junior shot a 144 over two days at Bethpage State Park to win the Nassau girls championship, coming within one stroke of tying the tournament record for best two-day score (set by Cold Spring Harbor’s Jenny Rosenberg last year). Rudra shot par 71 on Monday at Bethpage Yellow and a 2-over 73 at Bethpage Green Tuesday.
“I did a lot of preparation over the winter and I’m so happy it paid off,” said Rudra, who joined the varsity team as a seventh grader and finished second in each of the past three seasons. She also has three top-10 finishes at the state tournament.
“I was mentally strong and just took things shot by shot,” she added. “Over these two rounds, I had a lot more birdies than I had in the past, so my putting really helped me.”
Rudra finished 10 strokes ahead of runner-up Emilie Guo of Jericho, who earned a third-consecutive top-five finish. Manhasset’s Lauren Chen and Jericho’s Lauren Guo (Emilie’s sister) tied for third with a 162.
“I need to thank [Syosset coach] Steve Naranjo and my individual coach, James Hong,” Rudra said. “Both of them have really helped me grow as a player. I remember as a seventh grader barely being able to play 18 holes. Now I’m stronger, I hit the ball farther and I’m more confident thanks to their help.”
Syosset also won its fourth team title in five seasons, led by Rudra and Arushi Gahlaut, who finished in fifth individually with a 170.
“We had three players playing in their first county tournament,” Rudra said. “We’ve been telling them how it was upsetting to lose the title last year. All of us worked really hard, so to get the title back means the world.”
“Malini is an inspiration to the other girls,” Naranjo said. “She’s dedicated to the sport and they look up to her. And this is a great group that’s just fun to be around.”
Locust Valley’s Megan Meehan (173), North Shore’s Lindsey Golden (180), Friends Academy’s Serena Biondi (180) and Massapequa’s Kate Pagano (181) rounded out the top nine, which qualified for the state tournament that begins June 1 at Bethpage Yellow.