Dana Hills edges San Clemente by one stroke
LAGUNA NIGUEL - Mike Hurlbut stood under a tree just off the ninth green surrounded by his San Clemente boys golf team to go over all of the strokes the Tritons left out on the front nine of El Niguel Country Club.
There were three-putts, shanks in bunkers and even a quad. If the Tritons could have had just two of those shots back, they would still be undefeated in the South Coast League.
Instead, they posted a 208 which left them one stroke behind rival Dana Hills, which won Thursday's match with a 207.
"We have been the other side of that (winning by a stroke) many times in big matches ... in league, so what can you do?" Hurlbut said. "Each kid left a shot our two out there. It is a tough league.
"We have had more scores over 200 than I thought we would at this point. But the big thing is the end. Make your way through league and advance in CIF. Of course, we still want to win league."
That might be tough this year, though, with Mike Brockington leading the Dolphins (6-5, 1-1). He holed two birdies and finished with a 1-under 35, just one stroke off his best nine-hole score at El Niguel.
Brockington has been the medalist in all but two of the 11 matches the Dolphins have played this year, giving him a stroke average of 37.
"This is my home course, so I am comfortable here. I know it in and out," said Brockington, who has medaled in all three of the Dolphins' matches at El Niguel. "It is pretty dramatic. I knew it was going to be close. They have a great team and some solid players. We have some potential, too, and we pulled through today and got it done."
Course knowledge, Brockington said, is where the Dolphins had the edge. The greens are fast and treacherous, especially the one on hole No. 6. That one, he said, has a reputation for being "particularly nasty." And then there are some holes where you absolutely have to know the right angles to have any shot of scoring low. Miss a fairway and you can only hope to get a par, he said.
"Sure, the more you play a course the more familiar you are going to be with it," Hurlbut said. "We had two kids that hadn't played here before, but most of out kids had."
Kevin Allen led the Tritons (9-1, 1-1) with a 2-over 38. He managed to sneak in a birdie during his round, taking a three on the par-4, 376-yard No. 3.
But the Tritons' scores really don't tell the whole story with this team. They are better than the 201 average they have posted in their past three matches. San Clemente is so deep this year that Hurlbut holds weekly three-to-four round qualifying tournaments to determine the lineup for two to three matches at a time.
The Tritons, he said, have eight guys who have a season average difference of a stroke and a half.
"It is a curse and luxury at the same time because if I would have gone with our regular lineup today, we win," Hurlbut said.
In other boys golf matches Thursday:
El Modena 217, Canyon 197: Taylor Juroe carded a 1-over 37 as the Comanches (3-5, 2-2) defeated the Vanguards (4-8, 0-2) at Green River Country Club.
Fullerton 207, Whittier Christian 211: Matt Johnson shot a 1-over 36 to lead the Indians (10-2) over the Heralds (4-5) at Candlewood Country Club. Dan Edwards carded a 5-over 40 for the Indians.