May 18, 2015
Bellarmine College Preparatory of San Jose made it a clean sweep.
Bellarmine shot 4-under 356 to win the team title, and sophomore Eddy Lai posted a 2-under 70 and won a sudden death playoff, as the Bells made it a double at Monday’s NCGA/CIF Northern California Championship at par-72 Corral de Tierra Country Club in Salinas.
The Bells, who earned their first NorCal title since 2005, defeated runner-up Granite Bay by five strokes.
“It’s all about effort,” Bellarmine head coach Louie Agelson said. “The kids practice hard, stay focused and they’re disciplined both on and off the golf course. They had a lot of grit and resiliency.”
Both Lai and teammate Jensen Li finished the championship with identical scores of 70. Other Bells scores (best five of six) were Austin Murphy (71), Jake Haselden (72), Boots Del Biaggio (73) and Berk Harvey (74).
The Bells earned their NorCal spot by winning the Central Coast Section title. They’ll now move on to the CIF State Championship, slated for June 3 at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach.
“We’re very happy to move on,” Agelson said. “It’s not easy getting out of here. We were very fortunate. There’s a number of teams here who could’ve won it.”
Granite Bay, who came in at 361 and also earned a trip to State, was led by Bryan Baumgarten’s 70 and Riley Sullivan’s 71. Other scores for the Grizzly Bears, who play out of Sac-Joaquin Section, were Jeffrey Inouye-Wong (72), Mason Troike (73), Drake Mendenhall (75) and Ryder Sanders (78).
In the chase for the third and final team spot, both Foothill High of Pleasanton and Stevenson School of Pebble Beach finished tied after regulation at 375. In a card-off, Foothill earned third place due to having its sixth player posting a lower score, 81 to 84.
The championship was the last event for longtime Stevenson head coach Bill Hankison, who previously announced this would be his last season at the Pirates’ helm. Foothill, who was led by Ryan Knop’s 71 and John Fracisco’s 72, won its record sixth NorCal title in 2014, breaking a tie with Stevenson for all-time team titles.
Joining Stevenson among the broken hearted was Palma High of Salinas, which finished at 376, just a stroke shy of the playoff.
In the Individual Championship, Lai broke a five-man tie at 70 that included Li with a win on the first playoff hole (No.1). Lai stiffed a sand wedge from 110 yards out to within 4 feet of the flagstick and knocked in the putt for a birdie.
With the victory, Lai became the first Bellarmine player to ever win the Individual title.
“I didn’t expect to win,” said Lai, whose 70 included four birdies and two bogeys. “I thought there would be lower scores coming in. I finished strong.”
The other three players to finish at 70 were Noah Norton of Pleasant Valley, Noah Woolsey of Amador Valley and Baumgarten.
Norton and Woolsey were two of the low nine individuals not on an advancing team to earn spots in the State Championship at Poppy Hills. Also earning spots at State as individuals were Sunny Yan of Stevenson (71), Justin Suh of Evergreen Valley (71), Shrish Dwivedi of Harker School (71), Christian Banke of Monte Vista (72), Jacob Salomon of Dublin (73) and Gregori’s Chris Ebster (73). Suh is the defending CIF State Individual champion.