Jacob Solomon wins 2015 State High School Championship
Jacob Solomon of Dublin High took the individual title, while Westlake High of Westlake Village made it an unprecedented two in a row.
Solomon, a senior headed to the University of Auburn in the fall, shot a 3-under 68, and Westlake High fired a score of 18-over 373 to win the individual and team titles, respectively, at Wednesday’s CIF Boys State Championship at par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Solomon, a member of the Junior Tour of Northern California, defeated co-runner-ups Justin Suh of Evergreen Valley (San Jose) and Shrish Dwivedi of Harker School (San Jose) by a stroke. With the victory, he joins a list of former state champions that includes Rickie Fowler and Patrick Cantlay.
“I knew Rickie had won it. It’s pretty special to add my name,” Solomon said. “Winning a California state championship is pretty cool, knowing how great everyone here is.”
Even par through his first eight holes, Solomon made his first push by stringing together three straight birdies from holes No.9 through No.10.
He’d stumble with a bogey on the 12th and dropped back to even with a double-bogey on the 13th, but closed out his day with a birdie on No.16 and an eagle on the par-5 18th. On 18, he’d stiff a 3-iron from 210 yards out to within 10 feet of the flagstick and knock in the putt.
“It was a pretty special round,” Solomon said. “I felt like my ball-striking was great. The last three holes I told myself that I wanted to cap my high school career on a high note. It was fun.”
With a win, Suh, the 2014 champion, would’ve become the first individual to win two CIF state titles. He’d get to 3-under through his first 10 holes, but later stumbled with bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes. Headed to USC in the fall, Suh closed with a two-putt birdie on the 18th but was left one shot short.
“I knew that no one had won it twice. My coach made that clear. Coming in as defending champ added to the pressure,” Suh said. “My swing just didn’t feel right.”
For Suh, neither did the 13th or 14th holes. The winner of this year’s San Franciso City Championship, Suh said that he also struggled with the two holes in a practice round on Tuesday.
“They’re just tough holes for me. They don’t fit my eye,” Suh said. “There are not a lot of places to miss it on those greens.”
After going 2-over early on, Dwivedi birdied holes No.7, No.9 and No.10 to get to red numbers. The Princeton bound senior bogeyed the 14th though to drop back to even par before birdying the 16th and 18th holes.
Five players finished the individual championship tied for fourth at 71 including Kaiwen Liu of Torrey Pines, Noah Norton of Pleasant Valley and Temescal Canyon’s Norman Xiong.
While Suh came up just short, Westlake did make history. The Warriors, who defeated runner-up Torrey Pines by four strokes, are the first team to win two titles.
Leading the way for Westlake were Matt Wolff and Spencer Soosman, who were among the five at 71. Other Warriors scores were Brandon Jacobs (79), Justin Egelske (75), Jack Biwer (83) and Preston Smith (77).
Westlake returned five of the six players that won the state last year. The player who’s gone, Sean Crocker, now plays at USC, which finished as runner-up in the NCAA Championship on Wednesday.
Warriors coach Rick Naranjo didn’t set his line-up for this year’s championship until after a play-in practice round (four players for three spots) on Tuesday.
“The kids said that yesterday’s competition to get in was tougher than today,” Westlake head coach Rick Naranjo said. “They said they were more relaxed today.”
Torrey Pines, who won the title in 2011 and finished at 377, was led by Liu’s 71 and Adam Navigato’s 76. Other Falcons scores were Toby Song (77), Jamie Cheatham (78), Otto Vanahatalo (86) and James Song (75).
Finishing third in the team championship at 386 and making it a clean sweep for the Southern California contingent was Loyola of Los Angeles.
As for choosing to take his game to Auburn and the SEC, Solomon said his decision was based on the relationships he’s forged with the coaches there.
“The facilities they have there, nothing compares to it. And they have good academics,” Solomon said.
Looking ahead, Westlake could be on its way to a mini-dynasty. This year’s squad consisted of all juniors and one sophomore.