The Del Norte boys golf team turned in one of its best performances of the season on Monday at its only home meet of the year. Not only did the Warriors turn in the top team score, winning the meet by a total of 18 strokes, but Del Norte also had the three best individual rounds of the day at the Del Norte Golf Course.
Del Norte senior Cameron Schultz and junior Brennan Thornton paced the entire Humboldt-Del Norte League with identical rounds of 77 to tie for first place individually. Fellow Warrior senior Taylor Westbrook was hot on their heels, shooting a round of 78 overall to take third place.
It was the second individual win of the season for Schultz, who is the defending HDN champion. Schultz said he got off to a strong start to the day, but faded a little bit down the stretch.
“On the front nine I was playing pretty good,” Schultz said. “I was making a lot of up and downs and rolling in a lot of par puts. I only had one bogey, which was solid. On the back nine I had a good birdie on an up and down on 10 to get back to even but after that it was kind of rough.”
Schultz remained in third place in the HDN individual standings for the season, but he picked up two strokes on both Josh Holmes of St. Bernard’s and Matt Dusi of Eureka. Schultz is now just one stroke out of second place, but he trails Holmes by seven strokes.
Although Schultz made up some ground, he said he thought he had to make a few extra strokes on Monday in order to have a chance to come from behind to win another league title with the last meet of the season scheduled for Thursday at the Eureka Municipal Golf Course.
“They are doing good this year,” Schultz said of Homles and Dusi. “I really needed to come out here and shoot low if I am going to have a good shot at the individual. Now we are going onto their home course, so it is going to be tough to win by very much there. I really needed to go low here, and I didn’t really do that, so it is all going to be up to their home course. They are playing well, so I don’t really expect much, but we will see how it goes.”
Although Schultz was hoping for a little bit lower score, Thornton was excited to break 80 for the first time this season and grab a share of first place at an HDN meet for the first time in his career.
“It was crazy. I’ve never really placed first ever,” Thornton said. “I just had fun and did everything right I guess. It was pretty cool to tie with a teammate for first.”
Thornton said it was just one of those days where everything went right for him.
“Everything was working. I had a few bad holes, but everything else was a birdie or par,” he said. “I had a good day, and I had fun. That is what counts.”
Westbrook also had a solid day overall for Del Norte with a round of 78.
“It was a good day. It was pretty warm and was a beautiful day. We put the pins in a couple hard spots and that definitely affected some of the scores out there — I know it affected mine,” Westbrook said. “Overall I’m happy with they way that I played. I had some good holes and some bad holes, but that is golf.”
Westbrook’s round of 78 broke a tie with teammate Ben Slayton, who shot an 84 for the Warriors on Monday, for fourth place in the individual standings and the league’s final automatic birth into the section tournament.
Westbrook is now six strokes ahead of Slayton and four strokes ahead of McKinleyville’s Logan Hansen heading into the last meet.
“This puts me into a good position going into the last tournament,” Westbrook said. “It should put me into (sole possession of) fourth place by five or six strokes. That gives me a little bit of leeway to qualify for sections.”
While most of the Warriors were happy with their performance, Slayton said he struggled all day long, especially with his drives.
“This is probably the worst I have hit it all year. Playing at your home course, you really don’t want to do that,” Slayton said. “I couldn’t hit a fairway. If you aren’t doing that, then you aren’t playing very well. I made a few long putts, so it could have been worse. It stinks, but I’ll get over it and try to go do better on Thursday.”
Although Slayton’s drives were a little wonky overall, he ended up winning both of the closest to the pin competitions for the day with the best drive on holes three and 14.
Ben’s brother Anthony Slayton finished the day with a round of 97, breaking 100 for the first time this season.
Del Norte’s team score of 413 edged out Eureka by 18 strokes, cutting the Loggers’ overall lead for the season down to just 13 strokes, but with just one meet left to play the Warriors will need another big day on Thursday playing on Eureka’s home course. That meet is scheduled to tee off at 11 a.m.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .