MURRIETA – Every now and again a golfer can become the victim of overthinking and recently that was Great Oak senior golfer Nathan Sampson, a signee to San Diego State.
Then two months ago his father Jeff, a PGA professional at Redhawk and the current Wolfpack coach, worked with his son on speeding up his thinking over shots. It’s a lesson that has paid dividends for the younger Sampson with a win in the Southwestern League tournament and on May 8 a win in the CIF-SS Central Region Individual Qualifier after a round of 67 (-5) at Murrieta’s Bear Creek Golf Club. It’s the second straight year a Great Oak player has prevailed in the qualifier with Ryan Abuan prevailing last year.
Monday, May 8, was a day that had little wind, soft greens and easy hole locations so opportunities were there for lots of birdies. It took low numbers to both win and advance into the next round.
Sampson made seven birdies with two bogeys including back-to-back birdies at three and four along with a birdie on his last hole after reaching the par five ninth in two shots en route to a round of 67. Southwestern League golfers swept the podium as Great Oak’s Ryan Abuan and Chaparral’s Chayce Frye both shot -4 rounds of 68 to claim championship plaques. As his group turned to the front nine, Abuan actually had the lead after making a six-foot putt for birdie at the 18th but he’d give that shot back at the number two hole after finding the pine straw off the tee.
“I was always the fastest player out there when I was younger,” Nathan said. “But then I slowed down and became the guy that got put on the clock. My dad made me realize that the way I play my best golf is by playing fast and that’s what I’ve been getting back to.”
Abuan made three birdies in six holes highlighted by a wedge shot to tap in distance at 13 to go out in 32 (-4). He was even par on the front nine and after missing a birdie putt at eight left himself a 20-foot downhill eagle putt to tie the lead. It narrowly missed, but Abuan made the comebacker for birdie to tie for runner-up honors.
With a coach from Cal State San Bernardino looking on, Frye shot an impressive round of 68 recording five birdies and one lone bogey on the par five 9th hole. He responded to the adversity by making back-to-back birdies on his final two holes to earn a share of second place.
Ambassador League champions Linfield Christian had both of their golfers in Daniel Guerra and Luke Bohmer advance to the next round, which according to a social media post is the first time in program history that has occurred. Bohmer’s round of one under par 71 was highlighted by three birdies in a four-hole span at seven, nine and ten. Guerra shot a two over par round of 74 that was highlighted by a birdie at the 211-yard par three sixteenth hole. It continues a banner year for coach Mark Moore’s team who will compete in the CIF-SS Division 5 tournament Monday, May 15.
The score to advance was 76 (+4) and claiming the final two spots were Temescal Canyon’s Nixon Lauritzen (Ivy League Champion and a CIF-State regional finalist last year) and King’s Bear Huff (Big VIII Champion). They earned their spots by tiebreaker (lowest two back nine scores) as nine players tied on that total score. Great Oak’s Koa Baur was one of those who shot a 76 but lost on the tiebreaker. Alex Ni of St. Jeanne missed the playoff by a shot and Murrieta Valley’s Travis McSparran missed by two shots.
“As I walked around and looked at the hole locations, I’m honestly surprised that the number to advance wasn’t lower because every hole was in a favorable position for scoring,” Jeff Sampson said. “It was a great day for our valley, and I think we made a statement that the best golfers are in Temecula and Murrieta.”
Eight total Valley News area golfers advanced to the next round of individual qualifying on May 18 in Oxnard at River Ridge Golf Course.
With the Wolfpack finishing as a second-place team in Southwestern League play there was a nervous wait for Great Oak as they found out mid-afternoon their at-large petition into the CIF-SS Division 1 tournament was accepted. “It was tough to wait for that list to come out,” coach Sampson said. “I know the guys feel bad about not being able to close out either match against MV, but they redeemed themselves in the individual event and I feel we’ll make our mark in the team tournament.”
It was a tough day for Southwestern League team champion Murrieta Valley who only advanced one player onto the next round of individual play through this qualifier in Jayden Alden who shot a -1 round of 71.
The CIF-SS Division 1 team championship is at Temecula’s Cross Creek Golf Club on Monday, May 15, at 8 a.m.
Derryl Trujillo can be reached at email@example.com.