Northern California’s golfers proved too much their Southern California counterparts at the CIF/CGA State High School Championship Wednesday, as Granite Bay claimed the team title and Austin Smotherman of Del Oro High in Loomis emerged as the individual champion at San Gabriel CC.
Smotherman shot an impressive round of 4-under-par 67 – with five birdies and only one bogey – to edge Beau Hossler Jr. of Santa Margarita High by one stroke. Hossler, who qualified for his second straight U.S. Open last week, finished at 3-under 68 and just missed a 20-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have forced a playoff.
“I struggled a little bit,” Hossler (pictured at right) said. “I really wanted to win today. I played bogey-free, and I felt I gave myself some good opportunities [for birdies], but unfortunately I didn’t read the greens quite as well as I needed to.”
Hossler’s Santa Margarita teammate, Andrew Levitt, finished at 2-under 69 in a tie with Nicolo Galletti of Foothill High in Pleasanton. Jonathan Garrick of St. Francis High in Mountain View was fifth at 1-under 70.
Granite Bay claimed the team title at 19-over-par 374, despite not having a single player at even par or below for the day. Foothill took second at 21 under par. And Santa Margarita, despite having two golfers in the top three, finished fifth at 30 over.
Late in the competition, San Gabriel’s 16th hole proved to be a giant stumbling block for two of the contenders. Levitt arrived there at 5 under par and enjoying a one-stroke lead over Smotherman. But he triple-bogeyed the par-4 dogleg-left hole. He sent his tee shot out of bounds right – but only by about six inches. From 115 yards, he said, “I thought I had a good, open shot to the green, but I flew the green with a sand wedge. Then it was bad chip, bad putt.” He added, “It’s hard to be happy with 2-under [for the day] after tripling a hole.”
Arriving right behind him at 16, Galletti found a bunker left of the green, then blasted out into a bunker on the opposite side. As he hit out of that bunker, he sent his ball over the green into the thick fringe on the opposite side, and kicked a rake in frustration. But a chip-in for bogey eased the frustration some. “I tried to hit a big, high flop shot,” he said of his swing from the sand. “I just skulled it, twice in a row.”
A short time later, on the other side of the course, Smotherman, who began the day at No. 10, hit an 85-yard wedge to within 18 inches of the hole at No. 8. He rolled it in for his fifth birdie of the day to keep Hossler at bay. His par on the 183-yard ninth hole sealed his victory.
Smotherman (pictured at left), who has become friends with Hossler after playing junior tournaments with him around the country, said he had a terrible night before the tournament, waking up continuously and finally rising exhausted in the morning. “But once I hit my first tee shot right down the middle,” he said, “I knew it would be a good day.”
To see final scores, click here.
To see photos of the championship, click here.