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Servite's Cantlay selected as boys co-athlete of the year
The state champion golfer shares the top honor with Calvary Chapel's Knowles.
Dane Jako has done more at Servite than just coach boys golf; he's helped lead some of the Friars' football teams, too.
And along the way he has watched Chirs Galippo, D.J. Shoemate and Ryan Kalil evolve from solid high school players into big-time Division I recruits.
This year, though, he worked with a player who he said just might be even more competitive than those three USC Trojans. He's not the next Servite gridiron great, though, playing instead in a sport known as a gentleman's game: golf.
And boy has Patrick Cantlay ever proven that on the links this year. On Tuesday, he won the biggest prize in California high school golf, the CIF State championship.
It's the first time a Servite player has finished first in the elite tournament. And that solidified his selection as one of the Register's Athletes of the Year. That honor is not his alone, though; he shares it with undefeated state-champion wrestler William "Tank" Knowles from Calvary Chapel.
"He (Pat) is the most competitive individual that I have ever been around. You can match him on focus and toughness, but he is as tough as you can ever ask for," Jako said. "He refuses to lose. I have never seen anyone dominate as much as he has in golf this year. Not even close."
Dating back to the start of the 2009 CIF postseason, Cantlay is 46-under par through 11 tournaments. During that span, he's helped the Friars win back-to-back CIF-Southern Section team championships, he has finished first in the past two CIF-SS Southern Regional tournaments and last month in Lompoc, he won the section individual championship for the second year in a row. He did it by posting the only sub-par round in the 98-player field, shooting a 4-under 68 at the diabolically tough and very windy La Purisima Golf Course.
His scorecards this year read like this: 67 at Tijeras Creek Golf Club, 71 at Redhawk Golf Club, 66 at Skylinks Golf Course, 68 at La Purisima, 68 at the SCGA course in Murrieta and 68 at Santa Maria Country Club.
The last round is the one that delivered the state title. He ended up in a three-way tie for first after holing a birdie on one of his last two holes in the tournament, and then he went on to birdie his second playoff hole to finish first. Cantlay joins an impressive list of past state champs, including Rickie Fowler, the 2006 CIF State champ and 21-year old PGA Tour rookie who has won more than $1.9 million this year after finishing second in two tournaments.
The UCLA-bound Cantlay has done just about everything a high school golfer can during a season. He tied for first in the Champions Invitational, going 7-under in the 54-hole tournament at Terra Lago Golf Club, which used to play host to the Skins Game. He had a week during the regular season in which he was 10-under par, and he also won the Trinity League Individual title.
"He will do everything that he has to do, so that he doesn't lose. Coming down he knew he had to have a birdie on 17 (at Santa Maria Country Club in the state championship) to have a chance, and he made it," Jako said. Cantlay left his 80-yard approach about 2 feet away from the pin. "I had no doubt that when it (the state tournament) went to the playoff that he was going to win. You give him a second chance ... he has been preparing his whole life for this."
And over the years, he has evolved into the one of the best junior golfers in the country, holding down second place in the latest Golfweek Sagarin poll with a 68.22 rating. He is only .54 points behind Jordan Spieth, who made the cut at the recent Byron Nelson PGA tournament.
Jako said Cantlay shouldn't be compared to Tiger Woods. There's only going to be one Tiger. But Cantlay just might be the best player to come out of the county since Woods.
He's already accomplished something Woods never did during his high school career. Woods was never the Register's Athlete of the Year. Huntington Beach football/basketball standout Tony Gonzalez and Western's Woods were both seniors in 1994, and Gonzalez, the future NFL Hall of Fame tight end, beat him out.
Even though Cantlay always competed in the biggest junior tournaments around the country, he never forgot about the Friars. He didn't miss a single high school match, Jako said. Not even when his U.S. Open Sectional qualifier in Sacramento ended fewer than 24 hours before his CIF State championship tee time.
"He kept calling me and saying, 'Coach I will be there,'" Jako said. The Friars were the only Orange County team to make it to state.
He drove through the night, arriving in Santa Maria around 1 a.m. He was on the first tee at Santa Maria Country Club to begin his state championship-winning round at 9:45 a.m. Even though he finished first as an individual, the Friars came in second place behind Santa Barbara.
"For something like this (state), you are never tired," Cantlay said. "It is so tough to make it to the state tournament, and I knew this was my last chance, so I wanted to come here and make the most of it."