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2015 Register's boys golfer of the year: Clay Feagler, Dana Hills
When the conditions are at their worst, that’s when Clay Feagler plays his best.
A relentless wind, gusting up to 50 mph in Desert Hot Springs, did a good job of blowing birdies off scorecards during the CIF-SS Individual Championship. A little white golf ball didn’t stand a chance of reaching its intended target on a day like that.
The leaderboard, littered with 80s and 90s, was proof of that.
But then Feagler walked into the clubhouse at Mission Lakes Country Club to post his score.
There had to be a mistake.
The Dana Hills junior had shot an even-par 71. How could that be? A number that low that didn’t seem possible on a course, and in conditions, that left players looking beat down and bewildered.
Feagler loves to play in the wind, as it provides the mental and physical challenge he thrives on. It helps, too, that Feagler’s natural shot shape is one that resembles a low stinger at times. It’s perfectly suited for the wind.
His 71 was the low round of the day, securing first place in the tournament and his third consecutive trip to the SCGA So Cal championship. His success on that day, and throughout the season, has earned him the Register’s Orange County boys golfer of the year award.
“I really like playing in the wind, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard,” Feagler said.
On the first hole of the Southern Section tournament at Mission Lakes, the wind pushed his ball back 20 feet, leaving him with a 40-foot putt.
“It’s not fun playing in the wind,” Feagler said. “But it does make me try harder, and I always do well in the wind.”
He won the CIF-SS Southern Regional Individual championship at Skylinks Golf Course last year on an extremely breezy day in Long Beach.
“I have never seen him so focused like when he was playing in the wind (at Mission Lakes),” Dana Hills coach Glenn Forster said.
Feaglers’ stroke average was 71.75 in four CIF postseason tournaments. If you add the 5-under-par 139 he carded during the South Coast League Finals, that number falls to 71.0.
Feagler opened his CIF postseason campaign with a 2-under-par 70 on a much calmer day at Skylinks and tied for fourth in his defense of his CIF-SS Southern Individual Regional.
He followed that with a 1-under-par 71 at Talega Golf Club to help the Dolphins win the CIF-SS South Coast Team Regional. Two days later, he shot a 71 to win the CIF-SS Individual championship.
“My season has been pretty good so far,” Feagler said. “Winning the Southern Section feels special. It takes a lot of golfing ability to win that tournament, and I felt like I did well out there. But I didn’t have any confidence at the beginning of the season.”
His ball striking was off for much of the season, and he couldn’t shape his shots like he normally would. To make matters worse, he said, his chipping was bad and his putting might have been worse.
Two rounds changed his season. He posted back-to-back 33s at El Niguel Country Club and Marbella Country Club, two of the tougher tracks used in boys golf. His confidence was back.
“He is an extremely good player, and when he gets to the competitive part of the season, he really shines,” Forster said. “He rises to the occassion.”
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