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Bourging at the seams
In the new qualifying system for Division III golf (formerly 1A-2A-3A), schools must shoot a 26-over-par team score five times to earn a trip to the state tournament.
Bob Anderson thinks that's a slam dunk. He's shooting for the Division I qualifying score of 10-over.
The Yuma Catholic coach's confidence stems from his loaded roster, which includes five returners from last year's team that finished fourth in the state tournament and freshman Grady Bourguignon, who has been lighting up the junior circuit for years.
“I've been watching Grady play since he was an 8-year-old,” Anderson said. “My youngest son and him used to travel to junior golf tournaments, and it's exciting to have someone like that come in as a freshman that you feel like can challenge for the medalist spot at the state tournament, and one of the persons he's going to be challenging is (junior) Joey (Pickels).”
Pickels was the top player of last year's team, and seniors Jacob Harmon, Jon Loeffler, Erik Esch and junior Cody Boyd are back as well. There are also two transfers — senior Josh Hodges and junior Max Coffeen — that Anderson expects to be in the mix as well. He said any of them could be starting at any school in the area.
“I would say we have 10 kids who would play anywhere else in the county,” Anderson said. “Definitely the top eight would be starting somewhere.”
When YC won the state championship in 2006, Anderson said the play of their fifth golfer was key to the title. He also said that‘s what cost the Shamrocks in a playoff in 2009, when they ended up second.
“We're looking at the situation where if someone has an off round, someone is there to pick him up,” Anderson said. “That's the difference between this team and the one that lost in the playoffs two years ago. We didn't really have a No. 5 that could pick anybody up. This looks like the type of team where we've got that No. 5 player.”
He said he's not necessarily looking for the hottest golfer in the No. 5 spot.
“In the No. 5 spot, you're not looking for that low score,” Anderson said. “You're looking for somebody that, say, can consistently shoot a 79. You have to look at that when you make decisions about who's going to play.”
The Shamrocks get their first taste of the course Monday at Desert Hills against Antelope and Parker. Anderson said he expected his first five to be Bourguignon, Pickels, Harmon and Coffeen, with Hodges and Boyd battling for the last spot.
Antelope coach Allen Hill said in one respect he likes the new scoring system — that his team can focus on beating the course and not the Shamrocks.
“Even though we still go to matches, we're not competing against teams but against the course,” Hill said. “To me if you go out and meet the qualifying scores as an individual, then everybody's not concerned about other things. I'm trying to get the kids in the mentality that as loaded as Yuma Catholic is, they might beat us by 50. I don't care. It's how many shoot the qualifying score.”
The Rams are in their sixth year and have made state the last four, finishing in the top 10 teach time. Last year, the Rams were fifth, a spot behind the Shamrocks. But only one golfer that competed in the state tournament last year is back this year, sophomore Tyler Johnson.
Gone are Mieke Canan and Fred Blohm, who are playing collegiality at New Mexico State and Chandler-Gilbert, respectively.
“We no longer have those kids that live and breathe golf like Fred and Mieke,” Hill said. “When you've got two kids playing golf at college as freshmen, that says something alone.”
Johnson and senior Sam Coda battled it out last year for the No. 5 spot, but this year are the team's top returners. Hill said he expects junior transfer Skylar Salcido and freshmen Lane Adolf and Nicolas Melcher to round out his top five today. He also said junior Richard Rodriguez and senior Jacob Moore should be in the mix.
After Monday's three-way, both Antelope and Yuma Catholic return to Desert Hills for a four-way at 3 p.m. Friday.