SCL boys golf: El Molino ends 37-year streak to win title

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

WINDSOR — El Molino snapped a 37-year title drought Monday by winning the Sonoma County League championship at Windsor Golf Club.

The Lions, led by medalist Jason Foster, shot a team total of 403 to defeat runner-up Sonoma Valley by 27 strokes.

Foster shot a personal best 75 (three over par) to lead El Molino to the title.

“That’s four strokes better than my previous low,” the senior said. “All of us are excited because winning league was a goal we set.”

The day didn’t start promisingly for Foster.

“I was six-over-par after five holes,” he said. “Then, I started teeing my driver up and began hitting my drives straight and about 40 yards longer.

“After that, things started clicking. I birdied five holes, three on the backside.”

Coming to the 18th, Foster knew he had a chance for a personal best and also to be tournament medalist.

“I got a little nervous thinking about it,” he said. “I told myself on the tee that I could par the hole if I hit a straight drive.”

Foster took a deep breath and banged his ball 290 yards down the middle of the fairway. He put his next shot on the green and then two-putted for a four.

Foster edged teammate Keaton Kithcart by a stroke for low score.

Kithcart birdied six holes to go along with eight bogeys and a double.

The highlight of his round was making a 35-to-40 birdie putt on the par-4 No. 8.

“My putter was working all day,” the junior said. “It was the best part of my game.”

Also playing for El Molino were: Trevor Schaap (77), Cutter Dittman (82), Lake Romelli (93) and Garrett Anderson (114).

Only the top five scores are used to figure team totals.

For most of the past 37 years, the Lions have been a bottom-rung school in SCL golf. The program turned the corner in 2013 by finishing second in the regular season standings.

“Most of these guys started with us as freshmen,” coach Bill Olzman said. “A majority committed to the game by playing in a junior program during the summers.

“The more they played, the more they improved.”

This wasn’t the group of players Olzman thought would bring a title to the school.

“We did this without two of the players we were counting on,” he said. “One guy was excused from the team and the other player transferred to another school.”

By winning Monday, El Molino receives the SCL’s automatic invitation to the North Coast Section Tournament of Champions. That will be held May 12 at Peacock Gap in San Rafael.

Sonoma also will continue playing. By finishing second, the Dragons earned the right to compete in the Division I qualifier next Monday at Diablo Creek Golf Course in Walnut Creek.

Three other SCL golfers will also play at Diablo Creek. Alex Wood (77) and Jona Holty (79), both from Healdsburg, and Analy’s Nick Pearson (82) posted the lowest scores from players not on an advancing team.

Following the top two teams were: Analy (471), Healdsburg (474), Petaluma (490) and Piner (523).

SCL TOURNAMENT

AT WINDSOR GOLF CLUB

Par: 72

Team scores: El Molino 403, Sonoma Valley 430, Analy 471, Healdsburg 474, Petaluma 490, Piner 523.

El Molino scoring: Jason Foster 75, Keaton Kithcart 76, Trevor Schaap 77, Cutter Dittman 82, Lake Romelli 93.

Sonoma Valley scoring: Dario Minatta 79, Cyle Gusse 81, Christian Ballard 85, Brett Sullivan 90, Bailey Woodworth 95.

Notable: El Molino has been invited to the Tournament of Champions (May 12) in San Rafael … Sonoma moves on to the Division I qualifier (May 5) in Walnut Creek … Healdsburg teammates Alex Wood (77) and Jona Holty (79) and Analy’s Nick Pearson (82) also advance to the Division I qualifier.

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