To say there was a little excitement in the air early last Monday afternoon (Oct. 14) at Miami Springs Country Club might be understating the issue.
Slowly but surely scores from the District 23-2A golf tournament trickled into the clubhouse and slowly but surely members of the Miami Springs high school boys golf team watched their level of excitment rise.
And then it became official. After spending probably the last two decades as the repeated bridesmaid to perennial power Columbus, the Golden Hawks had done it.
Miami Springs 298, Columbus 300.
And at last, the Golden Hawks had reached out and grabbed the district championship trophy, instead of the runner-up trophy as they had so many times before, and proudly posed for pictures following their outstanding effort.
“Wow, what a great moment for all of us,” said senior Pat Bolton, who was one of two key performers who led to the big upset on Monday, shooting a personal-best 1-under-par 70. “I’m not sure if what we did has even set in yet. I knew coming in here today that we could find a way to beat them (Columbus) because beating them a few months ago in that dual meet really boosted our confidence.”
Bolton referred to an epic Aug. 29 battle between the two teams at Springs Country Club that finished in a tie. Having not beaten Columbus in a tournament or dual meet in more than 20 years, the Hawks won it on their first playoff hole, paving the way for their success on Monday.
The other big contribution came from the bag of Kyle Safreed.
For someone who rarely breaks 80, going out and shooting a 2-over-par 73 definitely qualified as “the round of his life.”
Even more impressive was the fact that Safreed had double-bogeyed his third-to-last hole, only to recover and finish birdie, birdie. And that turned out to be the difference. Columbus’ Juan Yumar won medalist honors with a 3-under 68, but he double-bogeyed the 18th hole and that four-shot swing swung the outcome in Springs’ favor.
“No way did I want to know anything else that was going on out there,” said Safreed. “When I’m playing well — and I knew I was playing well — I have to stay focused on what I’m doing and can’t worry about anything else around me. I’m proud of the fact that after getting that double bogey, I was able to come right back with those two birdies.”
The Hawks and Explorers aren’t done squaring off against each other, though. Needing only to finish third or better among the six teams competing, Springs and Columbus easily advanced to next week’s regional tournament at Hillcrest Country Club in Hollywood.
Luke Llaneras came in with a solid 6-over 77, while Pat Perez was one behind him with a 78 to round out Springs’ final 298 total. Brent Cates shot a nice 37 on the front nine but skied with a 47 on the back for an 84, but only the low four scores count toward a team total, so his score was thrown out.
“Just a terrific effort by all of the kids out there today, especially Pat (Bolton) and Kyle,” said Springs head coach Roger Piermarini. “After we had beaten Columbus a few months ago, they had started to slip a little bit with their scores. So I toughened up the course last week to have our own qualifying tournament (eight Springs golfers vied for the five spots in the district tournament) and I think that really helped prepare them for today.”
Bolton’s rise was amazing. It was a year ago in this very same district tournament that he shot an 86 to finish way back in the pack. Monday he broke par in an 18-hole tournament for the first time in his life.
“It couldn’t have come out at a better time,” said Bolton. “I’ve worked so hard on my ball striking lately and it was great out there today. I was striping it straight down the middle and hitting virtually every green. When you do that, you’re going to score well. What a great win for our program here at Springs.”