GOLF / STEVE ELLING : Angel's Dad Drives Him to Succeed

The kid who hits a driver as far as any junior player in the area has no license to drive.

Fairways, sure.

Freeways, not so fast.

"I haven't had time to get a license," said Darren Angel, who turned 16 in March.

No kidding. Last week, Angel, who will be a junior at Granada Hills High, played 36 holes each day for four days to win the Southern California PGA Junior Match Play Championships in Long Beach.

That kind of workload is hardly new, though. Angel plays so often that he leaves the details and logistics of his tournaments to his dad, Dennis, who usually draws chauffeur duties.

"I don't really worry about it," Angel said of his hectic summer tournament schedule. "I just figure I'm going to be playing somewhere. "

Sunday, Angel played a practice round at Rancho Bernardo Golf Course in San Diego, where a 36-hole qualifier for the prestigious U.S. Junior Amateur was held the following day. Angel again showed why he is considered one of the premier juniors in the Southland by winning medalist honors--the field included 104 players seeking six berths in the Amateur--with rounds of 68 and 71.

No resting on laurels for this guy. Angel left San Diego immediately for a tournament in Las Vegas, which started Tuesday and concludes Thursday.

Angel is entered in so many tournaments that he took his finals early to be able to get out of school two weeks before the rest of his classmates, who didn't complete classes until last Wednesday.

Angel schooled the field in the Match Play Championships, which featured three area players among the final four. He defeated Chad Wright of Ventura, 2 and 1, in the semifinal round. Wright, a Buena High graduate, will play in the fall at USC.

Steve Farris, who will be a junior at Hart, also won in his semifinal before falling in the final to Angel, 5 and 4. Farris, a steady player who pounds out pars and avoids disaster, found match play to his liking, though he is a relative novice at it.

Sometimes, slow and steady wins the race. Or darn close.

"I guess I like it better than stroke play," said Farris, who was playing for just the second time under that format. "I don't really know why, since it doesn't really favor my game.

"Lots of guys (in stroke play) put up a big number on a hole and it hurts them. I usually keep it pretty much in the fairway, which helps."

Two of Angel's rounds in the match play event went into sudden death. Angel, who won the City Section high school title last spring, estimates he played 120 holes of golf in a five-day span through Friday before he finally took a day off.

The U.S. Junior Amateur is July 27-31 at Waverly Country Club in Portland. Wright, with a 36-hole total of 142, also qualified, as did Hart sophomore-to-be Jason Semelsberger, who shot 143.


He's back: Jason Gore of Valencia, another Hart High product who plays at Arizona, was back in competitive action over the weekend for the first time in a month and finished in a tie for seventh in the Long Beach City Championship at Skylinks Golf Course.

On April 28, Gore became the second freshman to win the Pacific 10 Conference individual championship when he defeated Todd Demsey of rival Arizona State in sudden death at Sandpiper Golf Course in Goleta. Demsey later won the NCAA Division I title.

Gore's first round in Long Beach--which could be expected, in light of the layoff--was a little rocky, especially on the greens. Maybe he just had the shakes from competitive withdrawal.

"I had serious seizures on the greens," Gore said of his first-round 75. "I was trying out a new putter and the results were not good."

He switched back to his old magic wand and followed up with 68 and 70 to finish the 54-hole event at a solid three-under 213.

"It was good to get back into it again," he said. "I just love the competitive feel of being out there and playing."

Gore will be playing later this month in the Porter Cup Invitational in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and in the Western Amateur next month in Benton Harbor, Mich.


Titlist: Craig Steinberg of Van Nuys will be making a run at history later this month when he defends his title in the Southern California Golf Assn. Championships at Brentwood Country Club.

Sick of the term "three-peat"? Steinberg isn't.

Steinberg, 35, has won the tournament two years in a row and could be the first player to win three consecutive times.

He also could become the third player to win the event four times.

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