BURBANK — Take Jong Hyuk Hong off the bubble.
The Crescenta Valley High boys’ junior golfer might have solidified his status in being an integral member of the Falcons’ talented lineup.
Playing in the sixth of eight groups Thursday in the first Pacific League match of the season at De Bell Golf Club, Hong pulled off a pleasant surprise, as he shot a four-over-par 75 to secure medalist honors.
Hong spent the first part of last season on the school’s junior varsity team before being called up to the varsity team. Hong received a confidence boost following Thursday’s performance.
“I wanted it real bad,” Hong said. “I’ve been taking lessons and practicing almost every day.
“I thought my putting and driver were good and I stayed out of trouble except for the one time I hit a shot into the bunker. It’s good [to get medalist honors].”
Crescenta Valley second-year Coach Lee Pope said Hong had a shot at cracking the lineup.
“I knew he had it in him,” said Pope, whose team will look to improve on last season’s third-place finish in league. “He was a little inconstant last year, but he’s been hitting the ball a lot better now.”
Arcadia won the match with a 391, followed by Crescenta Valley (394), Burroughs (416), Glendale (449) and Burbank (460).
Glendale sophomore Russell Caletena carded a 76. Five players had 77s, including Cody Renfro of Crescenta Valley and Burroughs’ Sivakorn Losakul.
Caletena, expected to anchor the Nitros’ lineup, said he relied on approach shots to help him turn in a quality round.
“I was able to keep them on the fairways and also the greens,” Caletena said. “I was able to get up and down and I made some good decisions overall.
“Last summer, I played in some tournaments to help me improve. It’s just about being able to go out there and grind it out.”
Like Caletena, Losakul focused on approach shots being the main part of his game.
“It worked for me and I didn’t have to chip too much,” said Lokasul, a senior. “I’m happy with what I was able to do.
“My goal coming into the season is to get the team to CIF and also qualify individually.”
Crescenta Valley got a 78 from Paul Park, a reigning All-Area pick who advanced to CIF Southern Section Northern Individual last season, an 81 from David Holeman and an 83 from Brandon Cho.
Burroughs received 81s from Daniel Kesicbasian and Patrick Colbert.
Jason Apinchapong led Burbank, which took second in league last season, with an 85.
The next league match will be held April 10 at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena.