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Janita's journey
CV grad Vongphoumy forging her own identity in golf
Janita Vongphoumy was named WAC MVP twice in high school. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier file photo

A standout at Central Valley High School for two seasons, Janita Vongphoumy came close to quitting golf.

The sport became more of a chore than a joy for Janita, who longed to step out of her older sister's shadow.

Juliet had a storied career at the University of Maryland. She qualified for NCAA Divison-I Regionals and tied for second place at the Big Ten Women's Golf Championship in 2015. She won the Mary Fossum Award for having the conference's lowest stroke average relative to par. Juliet also earned first-team all-Big Ten honors and the league's sportsmanship award. She led Maryland in scoring average all four years. She's currently trying to qualify for the LPGA.

"Originally, I didn't want to play golf coming out of high school," said Janita, who just completed her freshman season with the Modesto Junior College Pirates. "But I felt like I had an obligation to not let people down. The people that thought I'd be just like my sister. She set the bar high in so many levels. It just seemed like I would never catch up. During the season, I had to focus on my own standards and set my own bar. I started playing for myself. I started having fun. I found my own identity this year."

Janita posted a two-day score of 157 (78-79) while placing 12th in the individual standings at the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship, held Nov. 13-14, at Morro Bay Golf Course.

The Pirates (657) finished behind Sierra (613), Santa Barbara (621) and Cuyamaca (647).

"I'm pretty happy with how I played," Vongphoumy said. "I shot my average. Playing on the golf course before lowered my nerves. I knew what and where to hit."

Janita led Modesto Junior College to a runner-up finish at the NorCal Regional Finals, staged Nov. 8-9, at Butte Creek Country Club in Chico.

Vongphoumy (78-82-160) placed fourth as an individual.

She finished third in the Big-8 rankings.

Modesto Junior College placed second as a team behind state-champion Sierra.

"It was really fun," Vongphoumy said. "I enjoyed being able to play against people that were just as good as and better than me. I exceeded my expectations. I didn't think I'd shoot in the 70s and stay in the 70s. With a lot of practice, I was able to reach my potential."

Vongphoumy, who plans to transfer to Cal State Monterey Bay following her sophomore year at Modesto Junior College, is in a good place now.

"I'll be 100 percent more comfortable out there on the golf course next season," she said. "I definitely know I can get a lot better. I haven't reached my full potential. I just need to dedicate more time to practice."