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Locals Holen, Weltig, MacArthur and Homa advance to finals in Palm Desert

Posted: May 13, 2008 2:20 a.m.
Updated: July 14, 2008 5:01 a.m.
CAMARILLO - It took a chip-in for a birdie on the sudden death playoff hole on Monday at Sterling Hills Country Club in Camarillo to get the last player in, but when all the scorecards were added up, four Foothill League golfers earned a trip to the CIF individual finals.

Thirty players were slotted to advance, but the guaranteed cutoff score of 74 left room for two more athletes with scores of 75 on the day.

West Ranch freshman J.J. Holen was one of them. This forced a sudden-death playoff in which the young Holen won on the birdie.

"I've had trouble finishing strong my last few matches," said the ninth-grader. "Today, though, I had a birdie, par, par to make the playoff."

The extra hole was anticlimactic, however, as Holen chipped in the shot from 30 feet to join Wildcats teammate Ryan Weltig (3-over 74), as well as Hart's Johnny MacArthur (2-under 69) and Max Homa (2-over 73) of Valencia.

Two other local participants - Harts' Tanner Diaz and Jay Lim of West Ranch - finished out of the running.

"When that shot went in, I was excited, but didn't know how to react," J.J. Holen. "I wanted to give a fist pump, but I didn't want to over due it.."

He eventually settled for a slight pump acknowledging a strong finish to an average day.

"It's hard at those times to separate being a coach from a dad," said Holen's father, Jeff. "So, I just to back and watched. When the ball hit the pin, it looked like it hung there for a v-e-r-y long time before finally falling in. When it did, though, I was very happy for him, especially in the way he closed it.

"But I was also happy and proud of how Jay did and Ryan, a senior, finished. He had a real good match on a course he's only played once before."

Weltig concurred, saying, "I started off pretty well, one-under for the first nine holes. I played pretty consistent, too. The number of quality golfers on the course today made things pretty exciting. It made me want to do well out there."

As for preparation, both athletes will have to practice their games at a local course, while working on their individual games..

"I'm not going there with really high expectations," said J.J. Holen, "but I'm going to practice hard and work on my short game. I'm still really excited about this, though."


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