It was one of the toughest days of the 2019 high school boys golf season, with a steady rain, wind and cool temperatures creating very challenging conditions for the inaugural “Champ” High School Classic on Monday.
“Today’s one of those days where you’re not going to hit the ball as far as you want or as straight as you want it,” said Vintage High School’s Jacob Aaron. “There were some really good teams and a lot of good players out here. You’ve just got to grind it out.”
Grind is what Vintage did, keeping its scores on the low side and not really suffering any blow-up holes on the par-72, 6,793-yard North Course, which was playing longer due to the weather.
Aaron led the way with a 75 as Vintage won the title in a field of 18 teams. The Crushers shot a 311 total to take first place. Redwood-Larkspur came in second at 315, Stevenson-Pebble Beach was third at 322, and St. Francis-Mountain View was fourth at 323.
Teams from Justin-Siena and American Canyon also played.
“We definitely had a really good day,” Vintage coach Arvin Persaud said. “For a tough day, with wind and rain, everybody really hung in there and played well.
“For us, it’s a really, really big deal. We played well. We’ve been kind of trending this way for a while. Maybe the team is just getting a little more mature and they’re not wasting shots out there. It’s kind of nice to see it all come together on a tough day. I think they showed some maturity. Some of the guys didn’t really have the great round going and they hung in there.”
Aaron was third individually. Riley Hatfield had a 77, Dylan McIntyre shot 79, Pierce Brown had an 80 and Will Hiserman an 85 for Vintage. The Crushers won the Vine Valley Athletic League Tournament No. 2 at Rooster Run Golf Course in Petaluma with a 400 team total.
Justin-Siena High School, the Johnny Miller Champ Foundation and Silverado partnered to host the “Champ” High School Classic. The event had a 10 a.m. shotgun start on the Silverado North Course, the home of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open.
Johnny Miller, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and a 25-time PGA Tour champion, created the Johnny Miller Junior Golf Foundation in 1993 to promote junior golf. In 2015, the foundation was renamed the Johnny Miller Champ Foundation, to honor his father, Larry Otto Miller, and his legacy in golf.
Four scores counted in the team scoring. There was an awards ceremony.
“The course has held up extremely well for what we’ve had to put up with here in Northern California,” said Ray Graziani, Justin-Siena’s head coach and the tournament chairman and director. “The course is in really, really good condition. We knew this rain was going to come in. It didn’t come in until after about the first nine holes were played.”
The rain began at 12:30 p.m. Players used umbrellas to try and keep themselves and their clubs as dry as possible. Due to the conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place in the general area, including the fairway and rough.
“They can go ahead and get a better lie,” said Graziani. “Anytime you allow some of these very good players to put their hand on the ball, and get a good lie, these boys can play golf in just about any kind of condition.”
Stevenson was led by Charles Alliston with a 75. The individual medalist was Matthew Adams of St. Francis-Mountain View with an even-par round of 72. Carson Levit of Branson-Ross was second with a 74.
Kane Lauterman of Redwood won the long drive title.
Aaron was solid all day for Vintage. One of his best shots came on the par-4 10th hole when he hit an 8-iron from the right rough on to the green on his approach. He birdied the 12th and 15th holes.
“The rough I thought was really hard, as it’s wet,” said Aaron. “Some of the greens were pretty tricky, especially with the water on them. The greens were tough toward the end. My group played pretty well. It was a fun day. And I had a great time today, even though it was raining. It was a great day.”
Aaron placed 23rd in the boys championship division, with rounds of 81 and 76 for a 157 total, at the Junior Tour of Northern California’s recent Spring Series I event at Stockton Golf and Country Club and Elkhorn Golf Club.
Persaud said he doesn’t usually say too much to his team before a match or tournament.
“For the most part, they know what to do. And they did really well,” said Persaud.
The rain caused some puddles to form on two greens, Nos. 16 and 17. Shawn McEntee, a PGA teaching pro at the Chardonnay Golf Club, borrowed a rake from the maintenance department and was able to squeegee the water off the putting surfaces.
“The biggest challenge in the rain is just holding on to your golf club during the swing,” said Graziani, a PGA golf professional since 1992 who is in his 13th year leading the golf program at Justin-Siena. “Your hands get slippery. The grips get slippery. You’re trying to generate club head speed and trying to hold on to the club at the same time.”
Justin-Siena, which shot 357, was led by Rocco Lee (82), Grant Koehler (89), Dominic Lee (89), Sam Gomez (97) and Aidan Schuemann (119).
American Canyon, which shot 408, was led by Brandon Giron (87), Arsenio Villarimo (103), Aaron Mitchell (106), Justin Andino (112) and Myles Norris (128).
Other teams playing were Marin Catholic-Kentfield (332), Granite Bay (337), Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland (346), Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep-San Francisco (351), Palma-Salinas (356), Branson (357), Vacaville (359), St. Vincent de Paul-Petaluma (366), Tamalpais-Mill Valley (369), Benicia (375), Petaluma (399), and Casa Grande-Petaluma (414).
Silverado’s ownership group donated the North Course for the event.