Before every round, the West Ranch boys golf team repeats the same phrase:
“Playing for Poppy.”
The CIF state finals are hosted at Poppy Hills, and that’s the destination the Wildcats are hoping to reach by the end of the season. They took their first step towards that goal on Tuesday, winning Foothill League meet No. 1 at Sand Canyon Country Club.
“We’re really confident this year,” said West Ranch’s Favian Busnawi. “We have a really good team. Our team all around is pretty good. We’re actually looking at CIF, we’re working towards Poppy Hills this year.”
West Ranch came in first with a team score of 399. Saugus was second at 408 and Hart was third at 422. Valencia came in fourth with 435, Golden Valley fifth with 491 and Canyon sixth with 543.
Busnawi shot a team-low 4-over 76 for the medalist title. Chad Waitkus Saugus’ No. 4 was second at 5-over 77 and Hart’s No. 1 and 2 golfers Cameron Gadd and Joe Lotta each followed with 7-over 79.
Busnawi, the No. 3 golfer in West Ranch’s lineup, said that his short game is what made the difference in his play on Tuesday. He said he dedicates one to two hours of practice each day to that area of his game.
“I didn’t hit very many greens today so it was all short game,” Busnawi said. “It was getting up and down from pretty much everywhere. Thirty yards, right around the green from the bunker. My chipping and putting really helped out today.”
He said Sand Canyon has improved as a course and has particularly firm greens, causing him to adjust his play to get the ball right where he wanted it.
“Instead of going right off the pin, I was aiming at the setter, the front of the green and just get the ball to roll out a little bit more than usual,” Busnawi said. “Same with the chips, I knew they weren’t going to self check like they usually do, just playing for that extra roll.”
Although the scores weren’t as low as they might have hoped, the Wildcats shot consistently across the lineup. Outside of Busnawi’s score, the West Ranch golfers all shot within five strokes of each other.
“Even with a bad round, they keep their head up and continue playing golf. I think that’s key, they don’t give up easily.” Busnawi said.
West Ranch continues its journey to Poppy Hills as they continue Foothill League competition on March 26 in the second league meet of the season at Valencia Country Club.