By Jon Stein
For The Signal
Aerated greens made putting a chore on Wednesday at Valencia Country Club during the Foothill League’s second league meet of the season.
But when the dust settled, it was a familiar face, and team, on top.
Gunnar Murray picked up medalist honors with a 1-under 71 to lead West Ranch to a victory with a team score of 381.
Murray’s 71 placed him five strokes ahead of the next closest competitor, teammate Diego Renteria, who posted a 4-over 76.
Rival Hart, which was playing without its No. 1 Jess Scheller, finished in second with a 407.
Saugus (420), Valencia (435) and Golden Valley (475) rounded out the team standings.
Canyon did not score as a team in the event due to only having five golfers participate.
“I felt really confident again,” said Murray, who also won Foothill League Meet No. 1 on March 20. “I was really confident going into the match. I had a good warm up session, I carried the good mojo into the first hole and road the wave.”
Fellow Wildcats Favian Busnawi and Ben Valdez finished in a three-way tie for third with Hart’s Art Thompson at 5-over, 77.
“It feels great,” Murray said of the team results. “It’s cool to know individually I’m performing the way I should perform, but as a team my teammates have my back and we’re winning and getting first place out there. It shows the depth on our team is really strong where the No. 1 guy can shoot low scores but the six guy can play well too.”
Do to aeration on the greens, a process in which little holes are punched into the grass to encourage long-term health of the grass and roots, putting posed a tricky problem on Wednesday.
“I think it got to some people a little differently,” said Murray, who noted he was not aware of the green repairs until he arrived at the course. “A couple of my teammates had a couple three putts out there, but it happens and it’s unfortunate.”
Of course, as Murray noted, everyone plays the same course, so the obstacle affected all of the league’s players on Wednesday.
“I just approach it as another variable that I factor into my shots,” he said. “I don’t look into it too much. I just think about it, read the putt, roll it and hole it.”
Through two league meets, West Ranch sits atop the league, having bested rival Hart in each match; something the Wildcats are definitely taking notice of after losing the league title to the Indians last season.
“Since we did lose last year as a team collectively to Hart, definitely first on our radar is to win league,” Murray said. “But also for us we want to move on to CIF because I know all the kids on the present lineup have never gone to CIF as a team. Some of us have individually, but not as a team and that would be very cool to move on as a whole and play to our potential.”