West makes more history with spot in state golf championships

Steve Gerace and Liz Pyles
Jake West hits his approach shot to the 17th green during a Shasta Cascade League match at Lake Shastina Resort April 13, 2011.

Continuing to set the north state prep golfing bar higher and higher, Weed High School senior Jake West is now the first Siskiyou County player to qualify for the CIF state championship tournament.

West, who a week earlier became the first player to ever win two Northern Section Masters individual championships, earned his trip to the state championships by shooting 73 in the Northern California CIF event May 23 at Butte Creek Country Club in Chico.

That left him in a four-way sudden death playoff for three state spots. West had one of three pars on the first playoff hole to secure his trip to state, scheduled to be held at Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach on June 8, the day after his graduation from Weed High.

Only the top six individual competitors who were not on any of the top three teams advanced from the Northern California tournament to the state championships.

West tied for 8th overall in a field of 95, but four of the players who finished above him were members of the top three teams, De La Salle of Concord, RL?Stevenson of Pebble Beach, and Foothill High of Pleasanton.

After missing state by two strokes last year, “this tournament meant more to him than any other,” Cougar coach Steve Neel said of West.

Neel said the course and the competition, much of it from private schools, was intense. He said he could see West’s nerves for the first time, but he overcame them. “For him to be that kind of golfer is phenomenal,” Neel said.

West agreed that he had never felt that kind of pressure before, especially on the last four holes of his back nine. He said he was able to hit “quality golf shots under pressure” and appreciated the support of his coach, family and friends who came to Chico with him.

Opening Nor Cals with an eagle

West opened the Nor Cal tournament with a chip-in for eagle 3 on Butte Creek’s 10th hole, then had a double bogey and birdie to make the turn at one under par 35.

After missing a short par putt on his 10th hole, West said he “knew then that every stroke makes a difference.” But after his ball plugged in a bunker,  he double-bogeyed his 12th hole. West “bounced back with a birdie” on the next hole and was two over par after 15.

The 16th “was kind of a really big hole for me,” West said. He hit his drive behind a tree, chipped out, “wedged onto the green to about 20 feet,” sank the par putt and gained “big momentum.”

West said he hit his “shot of the day”?on the 18th hole, a 508 yard par 5. As he described it, he hit a 290 yard drive along the right side of the fairway into the trees, about 220 yards from the green. He then hit a three iron from under the trees that landed on the front edge of the green, about 50 feet from the hole. A two-putt birdie gave him the finishing score he needed to make the playoff.

Coach Neel said after West finished his round, 16 golfers were still on the course, and they had to wait about 45 minutes with Jake “on the bubble” to see if he would make the top six.

The playoff was held on the 16th hole. West said he hit a great drive followed by a “great approach shot to eight feet.”?He two-putted for par.

Neel said that West played the play-off hole “perfect, safe. He couldn't have played it better.”

The best score of the day was a 68 shot by Jonathan Garrick of St. Francis High. Kurt Kitayama of Chico, the only other Northern Section player to qualify for state, shot 71, the third-best round of the day.

Kitayama’s Chico team placed 10th in the Nor Cal team standings, and Northern Section champion Pleasant Valley of Chico placed 11th.

Six teams and 12 individuals have qualified for the state championships. West will be one of 48 golfers competing in the individual event. He said to get ready he will be “practicing a little” and will “keep it fun.” Then he’ll get “down to state and maybe get hot and see what we can do.”

First to win two section individual titles

The previous week, West defeated Kitayama on the second hole of a sudden death playoff May 17 at Whitehawk Ranch Golf Course to win his second Northern Section Masters individual title.

A four time Shasta Cascade League golf MVP and the SCL MVP?in basketball this past winter, West was one of four individuals to qualify from the Masters to the Nor Cal tournament.

He and Kitayama both shot one-under par 70 in a Masters field that included qualifying players and teams from schools of all sizes in the section.

“The course and conditions were very tough and a 70 was an excellent score,” coach Neel said after the Masters tournament.

West became the first player to win the Jay Bell Northern Section Award that goes to the Masters champion twice.?He also won it last year.

Pleasant Valley and Chico advanced from the Masters as teams, while West, Brandon Stark of Redding Christian (72), Chris Wilson of Oroville (75), and Taylor Greenwood of Enterprise (77) also advanced.

Wilson, Taylor Manna of Chico and Cole Chavez of Pleasant Valley all shot 74 Monday at Butte Creek to finish in an 11-way tie for 15th place, one shot out of the sudden death playoff.

Hagarty, Davis placed in top half of NSCIF field

A week earlier in the Northern Section championships, Weed senior Liam Hagarty had the 14th best score in the individual standings at 81, while Mount Shasta junior Daulton Davis placed 22nd at 83.

Weed (446), which won the Masters team title in 2010, placed sixth among the six teams that competed this year, behind Pleasant Valley (392), Chico (409), Redding Christian (415), Modoc (433) and Oroville (445).

The Cougars earned their team spot in the section tournament by placing second to Modoc in the NSCIF Division II?Championships.

Chico had won the Division I championship over Pleasant Valley and Oroville, but Pleasant Valley was first at the Masters event.

Redding Christian won the Division III championship.

Only 11 of the 49 players who started in the Masters field broke 80.

Weed freshman Aidan Hagarty shot 89, junior Caleb Goltz 92, and freshman Clayton Mills 114.