BRADENTON -- When Phoebe Zhao and Yvonne Zheng came to the United States from China about three years ago their goal was to become better golfers.
It proved to be a wise decision and a reason the two girls dominated the field in the Class A-16 District Tournament to tie for medalist honors Monday at the Preserve Golf Club.
Their performance carried St. Stephens Episcopal School to the district championship and qualified the Falcons for the Region 6 meet Monday at the Lemon Bay Golf Club in Englewood.
The girls, who did not know each other before they arrived in Bradenton, tied at 73. Zheng shot a 35 over the first nine and Zhao finished with a 36 on the back nine. St. Stephens didn't have a team last year, but two years ago Zheng won the district title as a sophomore.
She has verbally committed to UCLA, but is most interested right now in seeing how far Saint Stephens can go in the post season.
"We have a pretty good team this year and our goal is to win the state; to win the individual title would be nice" Zheng said.
The senior, who turns 17 next week, had three birdies, two bogies and a double bogey. She has played the course before and was averaging about 36 for nine holes.
"I am not happy with the way I played today because I made a lot of stupid, careless mistakes. I have to play smarter the next time," she said.
Zhao, who grew up about an hour's plane ride from Beijing, was disappointed in her short game, which is usually her strength.
"This is my second year at Saint Stephens. I came here for golf and to have a better chance to get into college," she said. "Today, my irons were pretty good, but my putting was not really good. I had two birdies, but missed a lot of other chances for a birdie, maybe about five."
The Falcons also got a 75 from Michelle Yan to finish with 362 points. Cardinal Mooney was second (435) followed by Wachula Hardee (455).
The top three teams and the top three individuals not on a team in the top three advance to regions.
Cardinal Mooney got an 83 from Stephanie See, which enabled the Cougars to finish ahead of Hardee. Making a key contribution to the Cougars was Mallory Lapp with a 106. Their other scorers were Haley McCurdy and Quinn Incardona, who finished tied at 123.
Also advancing as an individual was Olivia Cecil from Bradenton Christian, who finished with a 101 and KcKayla Jeter from DeSoto County High (99).
Out-Of-Door Academy's M'Balia Bongoura and Morgan Mulholland were tied for the last qualifying spot with a 103 and had to go to a sudden death playoff, which Bongoura won on the second hole.
Southeast failed to qualify for regions for the first time in three years finishing with a score of 547. The Seminoles best scorer was Alex Bobelis, who shot a 120.