On the 17th hole, Ben Valdez’s second shot hit a tree. The ball bounced in the direction opposite the green and landed near the base of the tree’s trunk.
“It sucks, obviously it’s not the place you want to be,” the West Ranch golfer said. “But just stay committed to my next shot and kind of had to just, I went after it. Just trusted it.”
Valdez was able to make par on the hole and the incident didn’t hold him back from carding 1-over 73 to win the sixth Foothill League boys golf meet of the season and the Foothill League individual title on Wednesday at The Oaks Club at Valencia.
In a way, hitting the tree represented how Valdez’s season went as a whole. He was primed to have a good sophomore season but got out to a slow start.
“Just staying patient,” Valdez said of how he approached the season. “Just letting the good rounds come. I knew it was there, I knew I could get it out of me, I just had to wait for them and stay confident.”
Valdez had a breakthrough in the fourth league meet of the season, shooting a 66 to earn medalist. That score, along with Wednesday’s, helped him get ahead of some tight competition with his teammates.
He birdied on two holes and parred 13 while bogeying three to come in first in the final individual league standings with an overall score of 375. The Wildcats’ Favian Busnawi came in second (386) and teammate Matt Monheim was third (388).
Rounding out the seven golfers to head to the individual postseason were Hart’s Cameron Gadd (389), Saugus’ Chad Waitkus (395), West Ranch’s Brandon Park (396) and West Ranch’s Ashton Lee (400).
“The competition has really been within our team,” Busnawi said. “Ben and Matty played real well at Valencia Country Club (in the fourth meet) and I didn’t play too great, but yeah, it’s been fun just playing against them.”
West Ranch won the Foothill League team title for the second straight year with a score of 1938. Saugus was next at 2043 and Hart came after at 2096.
Valencia was fourth (2096), Golden Valley was fifth (2362) and Canyon was sixth (2681).
The Wildcats also won the sixth league meet by a score of 391, followed by Hart (404) and Saugus (416).
The CIF-Southern Section Individual playoffs are set to take place on Monday, May 6. The top 20 golfers will advance to the CIF-SS Individual finals.
CIF-SS Division Team Championships will be May 13-14 with the top two teams moving on to the CIF-SS SCGA Team Qualifier. West Ranch, Saugus and Hart will be competing in the team championships. Valencia will apply for an at-large bid.