The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Cami Thai swings into Columbia Golf commitment

Courtesy Cami Thai

Can you cross off “win the annual Tiger Woods Foundation Junior Invitational” from your bucket list? What about, “meet Tiger Woods?”

Maybe not, but Los Altos High School junior Cami Thai sure can.

After competing at the annual Tiger Woods Foundation Junior Invitational on October 8, 2023 at Pebble Beach in Monterey, Cami competed against the top junior golfers from around the nation. A few hours later, she stood next to Woods clutching a trophy, having just secured victory with an impressive 7&6 finish.

Junior Cami Thai poses next to Tiger Woods as the champion of the 2023 Tiger Woods Foundation Junior Invitational.

The same month, Cami accomplished yet another rare feat, committing to Columbia University as a junior.

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And now, she can also officially cross off “have the best month ever.”

Growing up in a family of golfers, Cami exposed early to the sport, but it wasn’t until her sister started playing more seriously that Cami did so too. At 7 years old, Cami started practicing consistently, gaining height on her shots and distance on her driver and irons and quickly improved her golf course management strategy.

At 14, Cami’s hard work paid off when she won the IMG Academy Junior World Golf Championship in San Diego, her first major tournament win. After two days of intense play, Cami emerged as the winner of the tournament out of over 100 girls from over 30 different countries.

“I felt really proud of myself after that,” Cami said. “I had gone to that tournament for a few years in a row before, and I was always in the middle of the pack, so going into the tournament, I didn’t think anything of it.”

Debuting on the LAHS varsity golf team as a freshman, Cami was ranked third on the team after her first season. Cami’s hours of daily training and participation in monthly tournaments never wavered and she even sacrificed Macklemore concert tickets for a competition.

“Cami almost missed a match against our toughest opponent,” Head Coach Abe Roof said. “We would have certainly lost that match if she didn’t play.”

The team went on to be undefeated for the regular season and finished third at the CCS Championships, earning them a place at the Northern California California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Championships where they finished sixth as a team, and Cami finished 13th individually.

Since sophomore year, Cami has played as number one on the LAHS team and was named the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League All-League Player Outstanding Freshman, Sophomore and Junior.

In late October, Cami committed to Columbia University, where she will continue her golf career at the Division I level. With a women’s golf team ranked sixth in the nation and an overall academic ranking of 12th in the nation, Columbia had everything that Cami was looking for.

“I wanted a school with a balance of academics and athletics,” Cami said, “I also wanted a golf program that I could improve in and be the best player that I can be. When visiting Columbia, a lot of things fell into place. I fell in love with the atmosphere of New York, and I’m excited for all the good food, things to do and people to meet.”

Cami’s dedication is proven by her level-headed attitude and calmness that she channels on the course. As the team captain, Cami brings motivating energy and persistence to her LAHS teammates.

“Cami carries herself not just with grace, but with a determination to always improve herself,” teammate senior Kara Chou said. “In the years that I’ve known her, I’ve been continuously impressed and inspired by her work ethic.”

Having worked through anxiety and stress in the mentally tough world of golf, Cami also uses her experience to motivate herself and the people around her.

“Cami knows to play her own game and stay unbothered,” teammate sophomore Alicia Liu said. “She can’t control anyone’s scores but her own. I think everyone on the team learns a lot from her skills and composure.”

Despite the competitiveness of golf tournaments, playing back-to-back tournaments and balancing schoolwork, Cami continues to bring a contagious positive energy to everyone around her.

“Cami has always been there for me,” Kara said.”She’s incredibly patient and empathetic, always validating my experiences and offering her advice in a genuinely thoughtful manner. She never fails to make me feel heard, and is the only person I feel comfortable enough to truly speak freely with. Everybody needs a Cami in their life.”

When asked to describe Cami in three words, answers from her teammates include caring, amicable, sincere and trustworthy. But Coach Roof’s answer?

“Future Hall of Famer.”

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