By Gideon Rubin
Torrey Pines defended its state title on a course it wasn’t used to, and the Falcons had a day that one of the state’s most successful programs wasn’t used to, either.
Despite a great effort from standout Ryan Burgess, the Falcons placed fourth at this year’s state championship match at San Gabriel Country Club on June 6.
“That just wasn’t our day,” Falcons golf coach Chris Drake said.
Unheralded Granite Bay was a surprise winner, shooting a 374. Granite Bay qualified for the state meet as a third-place finisher out of the Northern California regional match.
“They played the course the way it was meant to played,” Drake said. “They found a way to win.”
Granite Bay, which hadn’t even been to a state championship match since the event was reinstated 10 years ago, found its way by adjusting to an older course that plays much differently than the more modern courses the Falcons are accustomed to.
“It was a little tighter” than we’re used to, Drake said. “The fairways were really tight and the roughs were really long. It was a shorter course than we normally play.
“If you weren’t on the fairway, the best you were going to get is par.”
The course opened in 1904 and featured big tall trees that made a complicated design that much more difficult, Drake said.
And the course was difficult for everybody, with Granite Bay winning with a 19-over-par combined score.
“That’s got to be one of the highest winning scores,” Drake said.
Among the course’s idiosyncrasies was the unusual placement of traps and bunkers that rewarded precision ahead of power, neutralizing a key Falcons strength.
“If you were going to hit a perfect shot off a tee, they put a bunker right there,” Drake said.
“The course is set up very well, it was tough for everybody. They knew what they were doing.”
The Falcons finished seven strokes behind, shooting a combined 381 score.
Burgess, the Southern Methodist University-bound senior, shot an even-par 71 to lead the Falcons.
Bobby Gojuangco and Danny Ochoa each shot a 76. Aaron Strockis and Eric Peng contributed 78 and 80 scores, respectively.
“I don’t think our kids were overconfident,” Drake said. “They had a good practice round and they knew what the course. We just picked a really bad day to have a team-wide collapse.”
The Falcons were seeking their fourth consecutive state title overall, a streak that includes girls’ state championships the last two years.
The Falcons graduate seven seniors including three of their top six players.
In addition to Burgess, the Falcons graduate Gojuangco, who will play at Air Force, and Peng, who will play at West Point. They are among five seniors who will play at Division I colleges next year.
Among the Falcons key returnees will be Danny Ochoa, who has already committed to USC.
“We’re bringing back a pretty strong team, but losing those kids is going to be tough,” Drake said.