LA VERNE – On an afternoon in which La Cañada High golfer Collin Morikawa shot a sublime six-under-par 65 at Thursday afternoon’s Rio Hondo League boys’ golf finals at Marshall Canyon Golf Club in La Verne, perhaps the biggest story wasn’t the sophomore’s score.
Instead, a surprising effort from San Marino High’s trio of entrants was soured by a two-stroke penalty delivered to golfer Charlie Allen, which ultimately kept the Titan from advancing to the Northern Individual Regional Tournament on May 13 at River Ridge Golf Club.
Allen was accessed the penalty after “abusing the golf course” and “violating proper etiquette,” according to league golf commissioner, John Van De Veere of Temple City High, after Allen allegedly threw a club.
“I don’t like doing this, but this is something that we’ve talked about and the player had been warned,” Van De Veere said. “It’s not something new. This is a rule in the Rio Hondo League constitution and this isn’t the first time we’ve enforced this.”
The two-stroke penalty moved Allen’s score from a two-day, 36-hole total of 144 to 146, which dropped him from fourth to sixth in league.
“I’m not sure really what to say,” San Marino Coach Wyeth Collo said. “He’s a kid and made a mistake and it’s tough.”
More importantly, though, Allen’s fall out of the top five left him one spot from qualifying, with his position taken by La Cañada’s Joshua Suh, who carded a 69 on Thursday and finished with a 145, who joined teammates Morikawa and Robbie Stehlin and San Marino’s Andrew Doan and Ben Allen.
“It’s unfortunate, but there was a precedent last year or two years ago with a player who threw his club,” Spartans Coach Richard Tetu said. “Last time, though, it didn’t cost the player a chance to qualify, so that’s the big difference.”
Allen’s dissension also moved the league’s balance of power back to La Cañada, as the Spartans qualified three golfers, led by Morikawa.
Lost in the controversy was a masterful effort from Morikawa, who followed up a first-day 69 with a six-under-par 65.
“Everything was clicking for me today,” Morikawa said. “I started off with a birdie and everything went well after that.”
Morikawa finished with eight birdies, four each on the front and back nine, in tallying a 134 and beating his total of 136 last season.
After connecting on a birdie on the par-five, 469-yard first hole, Morikawa hit three-under by the sixth hole before bogeying the 205-yard, par-three seventh hole.
Morikawa recovered with a birdie to pull back to three-under by the ninth hole and nearly mirrored his effort on the back nine, with his one bogey coming on the par-three, 177-yard 11th hole.
“I think I was one-over on par threes, which is my weakness,” Morikawa said.
Stehlin finished with a one-over 72 in concluding with a two-day total of a 142, which placed him third.
“I came here on Sunday to get a practice round,” Stehlin said. “It was hot out there, but other than that, I did well on the course.”
Doan surprised last year’s field when the senior qualified to the CIF Individual Tournament with a fifth-place total of 151.
On Thursday, there was no surprise when Doan finished runner-up with a one-under-70 for a two-day total of 141.
“Last year, I wasn’t sure how I’d do, but this year I really wanted to shoot under par,” said Doan, who finished with six birdies.
Doan’s score was impressive considering he finished with a double-bogey on 18.
Doan will be accompanied by Allen, who finished with a 74 and a two-day total of 144, good for fourth.
La Canada’s other finals competitors were made up of Noah Bernstein (154), Daniel Rhee (157), Colin Kreditor (159) and Adam Horne (162).