Junior Golf: Locals turn in strong performances at the Napa Junior Golf Championships
Junior Golf

Junior Golf: Locals turn in strong performances at the Napa Junior Golf Championships


Sam Gomez of Capell Valley in Napa County turned in one of the lowest rounds in the field on Saturday, shooting a solid 5-over-par 77 during the Napa Junior Championship.

Gomez, who is going into his sophomore year at Justin-Siena High School, hit some very good shots at Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park. It was his short game that really stood out in the Junior Golf Association of Northern California event, as he made three birdies and launched himself into contention in the boys 14-15 age group.

Gomez, who plays for the Braves’ golf team, finished in second place in his age group while playing from the 6,496-yard blue tees. He birdied the par-3, 188-yard fourth hole with a 30-foot putt. He birdied the par-4, 368-yard ninth hole by making an eight-foot putt. His other birdie came on the 407-yard, par-4 15th hole when he made the putt from 30 feet.

He saved par by getting up and down from off the green with a putt from five feet on No. 18, completing one of his lowest rounds in his golf career.

“I played pretty good,” said Gomez. “I was hitting a lot of greens with mid-irons. The key was choosing the right club and taking an aggressive line.”

Gomez shot 37 on the front side and 40 on the back side. He hit 13 greens in regulation.

The tournament, which began at 10 a.m. and finished just after 6 p.m., had 50 players, both boys and girls, ages 12 to 18 in five age divisions.

Arjun Auija won the boys 14-15 division with a 75. Alexander LemMon was third with a 78.

Nicholas Young, who will be going into his sophomore year at Vintage, had an 88 in the boys 14-15 division. Young played on the Crushers’ Vine Valley Athletic League championship team this past spring. It was one of the best seasons for Vintage in many years, as the Crushers also won the inaugural “Champ” High School Classic on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa.

They also won the Ty Caplin Invitational at Elkhorn Golf Club in Stockton. Vintage took third at the Trans Bay Invitational, played at Rossmoor in Walnut Creek.

“It taught me how to play competitively better and it was a lot of fun,” Young said of the spring season. “It helped me a lot.”

The JGANC, a nonprofit organization that began in 1970, offers a “variety of fun, competitive, affordable junior golf tournaments” for youths ages 7 to 18, according to its website, jganc.bluegolf.com.

There are 75 events on this year’s JGANC schedule and tournaments are played at private, semi-private and public courses.

Chase Fleshman won the boys 16-18 division, shooting 76. Adrian Davis also had a 76 and Dylan Meskowsky had a 79. Rocco Lee, who will be starting his senior year at Justin-Siena this month, had an 81.

Lee made a birdie putt from 20 feet on the last hole, ending a round that he said began well with five straight pars.

“I started out really strong and I was feeling really confident through a bunch of holes,” said Lee. “I was pretty much scrambling on the back nine. It was a pretty big challenge.”

Napa Golf Course, designed by Jack Fleming and Bob Baldock, is a championship daily fee layout that provides a major test with water on 16 of the 18 holes. Napa Golf Course celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. The course was at one time a Monday qualifying site for the Kaiser International Open Invitational and Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic, PGA Tour events that were played at Silverado Resort and Spa. NGC has also hosted U.S. Open local qualifiers over the years.

The course has tree-lined fairways and push-up greens.

“This course is really well designed,” said Lee. “I like this course quite a bit. It puts up a challenge off the tee and it really makes you think over your tee shots, that you can’t go for everything and that you have to hold back a little bit.”

Lee was named to the All-Vine Valley Athletic League team and was the MVP of the Justin-Siena team. He is looking to elevate his game by putting in all the work he can.

“I want to try to get to a higher level. I need to put in the work to do that. I need to work a lot harder. And I need to be out there a lot more to be able to play at this next level. It’s my goal,” he said.

Aaron Cheng won the boys 12-13 division with an 86 and Steven Rivera was second with an 88.

Audrey Wang shot an 81 to win the girls 12-14 division. Amelia Garibaldi was second with an 84 and Sidney Heng was third with an 86.

Brooklyn Blankenship of American Canyon shot 102.

Angelica Antonio, who is going into her senior year at Benicia High, won the girls 15-18 division with a 1-under-par 72. Stella Cheng was second with a 77 and Mackenzie Manalo was third with a 78.

Katie Robinson, who will be a junior at American Canyon High in the fall, shot an 82. Her only birdie of the day came on the par-3, 126-yard 16th hole when she made the putt from two feet.

“I definitely lost a lot of shots out there, especially on that front nine. It definitely got to me a little bit,” said Robinson, the VVAL champion last year. “I got a lot more comfortable with my swing on the back nine, so it helped.

“This golf course definitely plays a little difficult.”

Robinson plays out of Silverado Resort and Spa. Her coach is Tom Sims, the PGA head golf professional at Silverado.

“I’m just fine-tuning the swing and working on getting more distance with my driver. We’re working on getting a lot more distance and just keeping the swing as consistent as possible,” said Robinson.

Robinson had a 71 on the East Course at Oakmont Golf Club in Sonoma County at the Vine Valley Athletic League Tournament last year.

She carded an 82 and tied for 11th place at the CIF North Coast Section Division 2 Championship/Individual Qualifier last year at Peacock Gap Golf Course in San Rafael.

She advanced to the CIF North Coast Section Division 1 Girls Championships at Tilden Park Golf Course in Berkeley where she shot an 80.

“I definitely want to perform as good as I can, especially going into my junior year with college recruiting starting up. I definitely want to try and perform as best as I can,” said Robinson.

She plays in junior tournaments throughout Northern California.

Last January, she took first place in the girls 14-18 division of the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour’s Northern California Open at Chardonnay Golf Club in American Canyon.

Robinson had rounds of 82 and 75 for a 157 total.

The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, founded in 2007 and based in Orlando, Florida, puts on two-day events around the country for juniors ages 8 to 18.

She placed fifth in the girls championship division of the Junior Tour of Northern California’s Summer Series III Championship in June at El Macero Country Club in Yolo County. Robinson had rounds of 79 and 80 for a 159 total.

She shot 85 and tied for fourth in the girls 15-18 division at the Green Valley Junior in June in Fairfield. The JGANC event was played at Green Valley Country Club.

Robinson tied for eighth in the girls championship division of the Junior Tour of Northern California’s Spring Series VI, a two-day event held in Fairfield. Robinson shot 74 at Rancho Solano and had an 81 at Paradise Valley.

In April, Robinson tied for sixth with a 72 in the girls 15-18 division of the JGANC’s First Tee Tri-Valley Pleasanton Junior Open at the Pleasanton Golf Center.

She tied for 24th in the girls championship division with rounds of 83 and 89 for a 172 total at the Junior Tour of Northern California’s Spring Series I event at Stockton Golf and Country Club and Elkhorn Golf Club in March.

The JGANC’s 2019 schedule continues with the Brophy/Loudon Junior Championship on Aug. 14 at Blue Rock Springs in Vallejo and the State Fair Junior on Aug. 24 at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento.

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