Torrey Pines High School wins state golf title
By Gideon Rubin
A roster of 19 elite high school golfers, all of whom would be the stars on most prep squads, gave Torrey Pines some obvious advantages this year.
But it also created some problems, the most notable being, how to pick six starters from a fiercely competitive field, with some players separated by just hundredths of a stroke.
It turned out to be a pretty good problem to have.
Torrey Pines concluded its amazing season by winning the June 8 state match at Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach in decisive fashion.
The Falcons shot a combined 366 on the 18-hole, par-72 course, finishing nine strokes ahead of second place Robert Louis Stevenson of Pebble Beach. They finished their season 37-0. The meet featured the state’s top six teams.
“It’s a blessing and a curse to have that much depth on this team but they’re pushing each other,” Torrey Pines coach Chris Drake said. “We went into the last match of the season with guys competing to be on the postseason roster and it only made them better.”
UCLA-bound senior Jay Hwang fired a 70 to lead the Falcons. He finished third overall individually, one stroke behind Alexander Schauffele (Scripps Ranch) and Nicolo Galletti (Foothill High of Pleasanton).
Junior Ryan Burgess and sophomore Danny Ochoa each shot a 73.
California-bound senior Michael Kim shot a 74, and Air Force-bound junior Bobby Gojuangco contributed a 76 score.
The competition on the Falcons roster was so intense that Hawaii-bound senior Mike Koenecke wasn’t even among the six who competed at the state meet.
“It shows that we’re pretty deep,” Drake said. “I don’t know that that’s anything new (at Torrey Pines), but 19 guys deep is unprecedented.”
Just as unprecedented was the Falcons following the footsteps of the girls’ team, which capped off its 27-0 campaign with a state championship in November. Torrey Pines is believed to be the first program in state history to win both boys’ and girls’ state titles, let alone field two unbeaten teams in the same school year.
Drake doesn’t believe he counted a score in the 40s all season on either team.
“It’s been a magical year,” he said. “Definitely a year I’m not going to forget anytime soon and I don’t think any of those players are going to forget this season anytime soon.”
The boy’s team was making its second straight state championship appearance after finishing third last season. The Falcons title was the second in six years and the fourth in school history.
Hwang, who was at 1-over-par heading into the back nine holes, stormed back on the back nine, coming within an eyelash of an eagle put on the 18th hole that would have given him a share of a three-way tie for first individually.
“I think it was a matter of him realizing that his (high school) career was coming to an end and he wanted to make the most of it,” Drake said.
Hwang’s turnaround started on the 10th hole, when he made a 30-plus foot birdie putt.
“I was walking with a parent of another player and she willed it in,” Drake said of the putt. “She was from another team, but she said he was going to make that put and he did.”
And although the internal competition was often intense, it didn’t come at the expense of the team’s camaraderie.
“We had a team of 19 guys who were pulling for each other and supporting each other more so than in the past,” Drake said. “As a coach that’s my biggest job, to foster that camaraderie and that trust, knowing that they’re not just playing for themselves but that they’re playing for each other.”
And despite their star power, it was the effort from the entire team that made the Falcons champions.
“Our record demonstrated our depth,” Drake said. “37-0 and all 19 guys played good amounts of matches so they all contributed to those victories.”
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