Mark it down. Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. It’s a date that will go down as perhaps the day the Miami Springs Senior High School boys golf program “stepped to the next level” of golf’s elite.
For the past two decades and beyond, a Miami Springs/Columbus golf match was always met with the same ho-hum result – a Columbus victory and usually not close.
Last week, when Columbus’ Francisco De La Torre lipped out a three foot par putt on the first playoff hole of a match that had finished in a 147-147 tie, history was made. Springs had, as far as anyone including yours truly whose cranium of covering Springs sports dates back to the late 80s, beaten Columbus, a multiple state champion over the years and the Tiger Woods of Miami-Dade County boys golf, for the first time.
“I’m not gonna lie, my hands were shaking that entire hole and I’ve been in a lot of pressure situations before but never one like this,” said senior Pat Bolton, who dropped in a six footer for birdie on the playoff hole (the par 4 ninth at Miami Springs Country Club). “We all knew what was on the line and that we could make history and it was one of the greatest feelings when we got it.”
Bolton, who made headlines over the summer when he hop-scotched over 30,000 miles around the country playing in various amateur tournaments, paired up with his senior teammate Pat Perez to form “Team Pat” in the playoff where they took on De La Torre and Julio Bettencourt.
Perez had just come in with a two-under par 34 while Bolton (36), Luke Llaneras (37) and Kyle Safreed (40) followed close behind to bring in the 147 total. (Chris Curanyas (42) and Brent Cates (43) also competed but only the four lowest scores count toward the team score).
When Columbus turned in the exact same score, both coaches met on what to do next.
“It’s something that hardly ever happens so we had to meet and make a decision,” said Springs coach Roger Piermarini. “A decision was made where each coach picked their top two players and the foursome would then play it off.”
With total score from both golfers deciding it, Bettencourt actually drove the green (the tees were 40 yards up from where they normally are) and two-putted for a birdie. The other three were right in front of the green and chipped on, Bolton in tightest with just a five footer.
After Perez two putted for his par, De La Torre had a 15 footer that he knocked three feet past. When Bolton drained his five footer for birdie, all De La Torre needed to do was make th e three footer to extend things to the next playoff hole.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw it,” said Perez of De La Torre’s miss. “We were already thinking about or next tee shots. What a great feeling to finally beat them and the thing is, we really felt coming in here that we could do this because we had worked hard all summer to really elevate the level of our game and now we’re seeing it pay off.”
Perez is referring to the fact that not only do he and Bolton bring veteran senior leadership to the team but Llaneras, Safreed, Curanyas, Alex Carlson and Orbein Suarez (the latter two did not qualify to play in the Columbus match) are also seniors in what could be Springs’ best boys golf team and deepest squad since the days of Chris Allen back in the early 90s.