Rogers stars at NCS with a hole-in-onegolf here

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
 

Montgomery’s Nick Rogers switched clubs and became a golfing genius Monday.
 

His ensuing drive on No. 17 at Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton produced a hole-in-one in the section finals and helped secure him a spot in the Northern California prep championships.
 

The Viking ace was the one Empire golfer to keep his season alive past Monday. By scoring low enough at the North Coast Section Tournament of Champions, he joined three other individuals not on qualifying teams to advance. Montgomery narrowly missed moving on, finishing fifth just 11 strokes out of the third and final team spot for the regional finals.
 

The first hole-in-one Rogers ever made came on the second to last hole at Castlewood. Four shots over par after a shaky start, Rogers knew he needed a strong finish to reach Nor Cals.
 

“I thought I had a shot. I knew I could shoot around par on that course,” Rogers said. “That was great. It got me to advance.”
 

Finishing two shots over par with a 72, Rogers was low scorer among Empire players at the section finals.
Julian Landen, a Vikings teammate, shot 78. Corey Ghiringhelli fired a 79 to lead Casa Grande, which finished well back in the field after a difficult day on the short course with fast greens.
 

“That course is in a different league. I’ve never played anything like it,” said Ghiringhelli, who won the Sonoma County League individual title.
 

Montgomery and Casa Grande reached the section championships after respectively winning the North Bay and Sonoma County league titles. Advancing out of the section qualifier a week ago were Frank Euphrat, Cardinal Newman; Mike O’Daniel, Analy; and Richard Chong, Maria Carrillo.
 

Rogers has been the Empire’s top golfer and he played another steady stretch of holes on Monday.
“I’m just more consistent. I just try to stay focused,” he said.
 

Staying mentally sharp after shooting four over par the first six holes saved Rogers’ day. Pushing putts past the hole hurt Rogers early. But solid drives and an improved short game moved Rogers among the day’s low scorers at the end of the day.
 

“I knew there were a lot more holes that I could get back on track,” Rogers said.
 

Aiding his climb up the leader board were two golfers in his group familiar with the course. Players were not allowed a practice round on the weekend because Castlewood is a private course.
“I saw where they were hitting and what clubs they selected. It probably saved me two or three shots,” Rogers said.
 

Yet on No. 17, it was Rogers who made the right call on club selection. Watching the others in his group hit too hard with 5 irons, he went with a 6 iron to control the drive and get the ball rolling closer to the hole. Only his shot off the tee rolled into the cup.
“I only had two holes left and that was one of the toughest on the course,” Rogers said. “I’m playing my best now.”
 

Players needed to be good Monday. Castlewood challenges short games and putting.
On the par 70 links, four Empire golfers shot under 80 — Rogers, Landen, Euphrat and Ghiringhelli.
Not playing the course was a factor. Golfers unfamiliar with the layout don’t know the course’s danger zones and how to stay out of trouble.
 

“The only thing that held me back was not knowing the course,” Ghiringhelli said. “Every time I didn’t hit the ball in the fairway messed me up. Because then you’re scrambling.”
 

Taking advantage of playing with golfers who knew Castlewood helped Rogers shoot a round that moves him into the Nor Cals. Rogers will be ready for Monday’s championships at Butte Creek Country Club, having played the Chico course in a high school tournament a year ago.
 

“You can score low on that course,” Rogers said. “I should have a good chance.”