MONTEREY – Winds were brutal, reaching gusts of 30 mph. As a result, the greens were a little drier and bumpier than normal.
Get used to it.
The Laguna Seca Golf Course is where the Finals and Finals for the Central Coast Section will take place over the next two weeks.
“I told our top end you had a goal,” Stevenson boys’ golf coach Justin Bates said. “Don’t be afraid to come down. Have the courage to take risks.
Luke Brandler and Curtis DaSilva responded, both shooting under par on Monday to lead the perennial power Pirates to the Gabilan Division golf title with a 375-408 win over runners-up Palma.
“Mission accomplished,” Bates said.
Brandler was the medalist with a 2 under 69, while DaSilva had a 70.
“Laguna Seca is still pretty windy,” Brandler said. ” It was hard. I struggled early trying to assess the conditions on the first few holes.
Stevenson and Palma move on to CCS regionals next Tuesday, with Salinas – who finished third with 409 teams – vying for a spot overall.
“We’re trying to get in a position to feel comfortable with the course,” Bates said. “The CCS is the one we want. It means the most to us.
Stevenson will be chasing his 15th section title, the last coming in 2019 before the pandemic. He was also a finalist 10 times.
Ironically, the only blemish on a perfect season heading into the final for the Pirates came in their final Gabilan Division tune-up when Palma faced them to a nine-hole tie.
Playing 18 holes for the first time in the division, Stevenson seemed better prepared for rounds longer than five hours, as evidenced by his victory in 33 strokes.
“It’s a mental challenge,” said DaSilva, a medalist last year. “The tours are longer. At the same time, when you’re playing nine holes, you don’t have much room for error.
Bogeating his first hole, DaSilva felt like he needed a few holes to figure out the conditions, relying on his past experiences at Laguna Seca to sort things out.
“I found my swing about four holes into the game,” DaSilva said. “The wind was difficult. It’s not so much about adjustments as about making the right decisions. My approaches were good. I took chances. I just didn’t ride well.
Brandler was 3-over after five holes before the rookie settled into a rhythm, parrying nine of the next 10 holes with a birdie.
“I just had to focus on what I could control and not worry about the conditions,” Brandler said. “My records were working. I just made mistakes early on.
Brandler put on a golf display on the final three holes with an eagle and two birdies to edge DaSilva for medal honors.
“We kind of treated this as a practice round for the next two weeks,” Brandler said. “We have been thinking about CCS since the start of the season.”
Stevenson finished four of the top five overall with Jonathan Sze shooting a 76 and Cole Leon a 79. Luca Cimoroni rounded out the team with an 81, as well as Steven Lai’s 84.
“Our intermediaries have done their job,” Bates said. “It’s always an advantage to play the course you know you hope to be on for the next two weeks.”
Palma couldn’t keep up the momentum of their last division encounter but managed to hold off Salinas with a bang to extend their season as a side heading into next week’s regionals.
“I got off to a bad start,” said Palma junior Evan Russo, who shot an 81. “I got over it. I don’t want to blame the course. I hit the ball perfectly. The score just wasn’t there, I couldn’t make my putts.
Russo will be joined by teammates Kevin Chen (78), Brendan Watson (79), Ryan Russo (79), Colton Amaral (91) and Josh Bassetti (91).
Among the individuals who advanced were Jack Jarvis (77) and Reid Bradway (79) of Salinas, as well as Jonathan Chen (75) and Coe Kroeker (77) of Carmel.
“Conditions were tough with winds and a bit bumpy greens,” Jarvis said. “I struggled at first. I figured the next three holes could be scored. I managed to birdie one of them.