The focus may have been on Jake Vincent of Palm Desert High School winning the Desert Valley League individual boys’ golf title with a bogey on the final hole Thursday. But Vincent may have actually won the league title with a crucial par putt on the previous hole.
Vincent rolled in a 20-foot par putt on the 17th hole of the North Course at Indian Canyons Golf Resort in Palm Springs to stay tied with Caesar Cheng of Xavier Prep, then bogeyed the par-5 18th while Cheng double bogeyed the hole.
“I knew where I stood the whole time, because my goal today was to win my group,” Vincent said. “I had five strokes until fourth place (after the first round), so my goal was to win my group.”
Vincent, playing in the final group with Cheng and Xavier’s Shawn Tsai, managed a 3-over 75 on a breezy day at Indian Canyons. Combined with his 69 in Tuesday’s first round, Vincent finished at even-par 144. Cheng and Tsai tied for second at 145, each stumbling to a big score on one hole on the back nine Thursday. Cheng’s final-round 75 included the double bogey on the final hole. Tsai was the leader after a 68 the first day, but he managed just a 77 in the final 18 holes, including a triple-bogey 8 on the 13th hole when his drive drifted about two feet out of bounds.
Vincent started the day one shot behind Tsai, but it was Tsai who held the lead alone early in the final round after rolling in a 15-foot eagle putt on the 10th hole. That put Tsai 2-under for the round and two shots ahead of Vincent and three shots ahead of Cheng.
But Tsai lost his grip on the lead with a bogey on the 11th hole when his drive hit a tree and then with the triple-bogey on the 13th hole. That allowed all three players in the final group to hold or share the lead back and forth throughout the back nine.
“It was tough, it was tough,” Vincent said. “And I really didn’t even have any of my best shots out there. I was struggling to get it inside of 10 feet all day. But I made some putts when it mattered.”
When Tsai made birdie on the 15th hole, the three players were tied with three holes to play. Cheng and Vincent parred the par-3 16th while Tsai bogeyed the hole to fall one back. Then came the par-4 17th, where Vincent found a bunker to the back left of the green while Cheng hit the green in two. Vincent’s downhill bunker shot left him 20 feet coming back for his par, but the senior rolled in the putt to keep pace with Cheng. Tseng fell two off the pace with another bogey.
“I had the exact same putt in the first round,” Vincent said. “So I knew to just hit it high and let it come down left and it managed to catch the bottom of the cup.”
On the par-5 18th, Vincent’s drive found the base of a tree and he could only pitch the ball forward about 100 yard. Cheng’s drive was down the middle, but his second shot toward the green found a lake short and right of the putting surface. When Cheng three-putted the green from about 30 feet, it allowed Vincent to two-putt from eight feet for a bogey to win.
“I like to think if I had needed that putt to win I would have made it,” Vincent said with a smile.
Vincent, Cheng and Tsai lead seven players from the DVL who will advance to the CIF-Southern Section individual regionals May 9, also to be played on the North Course. Bill Tseng of Xavier was fourth at 146 including a 72 Thursday, while Leo Hsiang of Xavier and Chase Cadwallader of Palm Desert tied for fifth at 149. Jack Solis of Xavier was the final regional qualifier at 150.
PALM SPRINGS – Final score from the Desert Valley League boys golf individual finals, played at the par-72 North Course at Indian Canyons Golf Resort (the top seven players are first-team all-league and advance to CIF-SS regional play):
Jake Vincent (PD) 69-75 – 144
Caesar Cheng (X) 70-75 – 145
Shawn Tsai (X) 68-77 – 145
Bill Tseng (X) 74-72 – 146
Leo Hsiang (X) 77 -72 – 149
Chase Cadwallader (PD) 77-72 – 149
Jack Solis (X) 75-75- 150
Mark Williams (LQ) 77-74 – 151
John Kim (PD) 74-78 – 152
Michael Choma (LQ) 76-77—153
Casey Scott (PD) 79-74 – 153
Derrick Liu (PD) 76-78 – 154
Grant Calender (LQ) 78-76 – 154
Issac Calderon (LQ) 77-79 – 156
Ben Lewis (PD) 77-80 – 157
Adam Co (PD) 79-80 – 159
Nick Daniels (PD) 76-84 – 160
Matthew Otten (X) 79-87 – 166