High School golf: DaSilva, Carmel, Palma advance to CCS golf finals

High School golf: DaSilva, Carmel, Palma advance to CCS golf finals

For five holes Curtis DaSilva couldn’t see where his ball was falling on the fairways, his drives lost in thick fog over the Laguna Seca Golf Ranch.

The Stevenson sophomore essentially was maneuvering the holes based on the memory of a course he played just one week earlier.

“You couldn’t see the ball after 100 yards,” DaSilva said. “You didn’t know where it landed until you got to the spot.”

DaSilva had a goal in mind, as well as a projected score of what it would take to extend his season and play in the Central Coast Section golf finals.

Unable to match last week’s 4-under par, the 15-year-old shot an even-par 71 Tuesday – the third-lowest score – at the CCS Regionals to advance to Tuesday’s finals at Laguna Seca.

DaSilva will move on along with Carmel (401), which finished three strokes behind Mitty of San Jose (398) in second place. Palma advanced in the regional second bracket, placing fourth (403). Bellarmine of San Jose shot 379.

The top two teams from each regional bracket and top nine individuals advance to the section finals.

Because of COVID protocols, all golfers started on the first hole, which forced an earlier tee-off time. DaSilva went off with the first group at 7:30 a.m.

Last week at the Pacific Coast Athletic League qualifier, the event was held in the afternoon — which is when most high school matches occur.

“I didn’t hit all the shots I wanted,” DaSilva said. “My putts weren’t dropping. It’s tough starting so early. The course does play a lot different when it’s not windy. With this being my first section competition, I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

The final group from the second regional bracket — which teed off at 11:10 a.m, finished just before sunset, capping a 13-hour marathon of golf.

“I’m pulling my hair out,” Palma coach George Gatanaga said. “Today was extremely long. Some kids played six-hour rounds. These kids ground it out. I’m extremely proud of them.”

DaSilva finished five strokes behind Nathan Wang of Mitty, who recorded a 66. DaSilva shot a 67 last week at Laguna Seca.

“He’s got a shot,” Stevenson coach Justin Bates said.

Once the fog began to lift, DaSilva’s game progressed. A birdie on the fifth hole seemed to point him in the right direction.

“That was a confidence boost,” said Da Silva, who won the De La Salle Invitational last year as a freshman before the pandemic shut down the entire spring season.

So was the birdie on the 13th hole, putting the slender 6-foot-2 DaSilva 1-under at that point.

“I felt I needed to shoot under 75 to have a shot to reach the finals,” DaSilva said.

DaSilva finished with two birdies and 14 pars over 18 holes.

“My approach next week has to be better,” DaSilva said. “I hit most of the greens. But I was not close enough for birdie attempts.”

A four-stroke improvement from the previous week enabled Seamus Chang to earn the lowest score for Carmel with a 5-over 76, while teammate Nicco Cristofalo finished with a 77.

“My irons were going the way I wanted,” said Chang, who is just a sophomore. “I thought my distances were good on my drives. And I felt I putted well.”

Nervous before the start of the event, a birdie earlier in the tournament gave Chang the confidence lift he needed to grind through 18 holes.

“We couldn’t see where our balls were landing on the driving range before we started,” Chang said. “You could not see anything on the first two holes. But it got better.”

Upon walking up to the golf club after his final putt on the 18th hole, sophomore Cole Kroeker looked at assistant coach Chris Little and pointed toward his head.

Having shot a 78 last week, Kroeker was disappointed with his score of 80 — where he struggled on the back nine.

“I have the game, I have the discipline,” Kroeker said. “The mind is so powerful. It’s so tough. I’m so close to controlling it. I knew the back nine would be tough. I knew it would be mental.”

Kroeker felt he drove the ball well with his approach, hitting the fairways clean. But the greens proved to be a problem at times.

“I was putting myself in a good position with drives,” Kroeker said. “But the greens were bumpy and slow in the morning. You have to be able to adjust.”

Senior Caleb Barstad didn’t have the round he envisioned for the Padres, shooting four strokes off last week’s round of 81.

“I was rough off the tee,” Barstad said. “I made a swing change and wasn’t getting enough spin. It was falling to the right. What’s frustrating is I feel I could shoot under par tomorrow.”

Barstad will get that chance in six days, along with seniors Tyler Bianchi (83) and Ryan Dority (85) at the section finals.

So will the Palma contingent, anchored by Evan Russo, who carded a 72, leading the team to a fourth-place finish in the second regional bracket qualifier.

“My top three pulled through,” Gatanaga said. “My sophomores really played well. The future is very bright for high school golf around here.”

Following Russo for the Chieftains was Brandon Watson, who shot a 76. Rounding out the scorers were Kevin Chen (80), Carl Nielsen (81), Josh Bassetti (94) and Richard Amersehhi (99).

Palma, which was two strokes better than Stevenson at the PCAL qualifier to advance into the regionals as the second representative behind Carmel, shot 14 strokes better in the CCS regionals.

“These kids have all the tools to hit it long,” Gatanaga said. “But you have to get close to the hole to make the putt. That’s really where it is. I saw a lot of short misses. That’s four or five strokes.”

Monterey freshman Nash Bodensteiner used the section regionals as a building block, having shot a 79 last week to qualify for the tournament.

Related posts

USA TODAY Sports Male Golfer of the Year Gordon Sargent hopes strong showing at U.S. Amateur propels him to success at Vanderbilt

School Sports

Area Golf: The Rose’s become new owners at the Vintage in Staples

School Sports

Golf opportunities for area youth expanding at GHGC

School Sports

Leave a Comment