Darren Angel takes a swipe at the biggest high school golf tournament of the year. . . .
The set-up was great.
The follow-through was not.
Given a chance to shred friendly Bernardo Heights Country Club on Wednesday, a course tailor-made for those with length off the tee, the big bopper from Granada Hills High came up short.
"I'm the longest hitter out here," Angel said. "I should be able to tear up the place. What did I do? Not much."
Much ado about nothing it wasn't, though it still ranked as a bit of a disappointment.
Angel was one of the favorites in the event, which pits the best players and teams from four Southern California sections of the CIF. He clearly stumbled on what should have been his strength.
Bernardo Heights, which measures a user-friendly 6,400 yards, should have been putty in his hands--particularly the four dinky par fives. Where others moved forward, Angel regressed.
Angel played the par fives, none of which measured more than 508 yards, at even par. Hoffman, a senior and defending champion, played them at five-under and managed two eagles.
Angel, the three-time City Section individual champion, had three birdies and one bogey in his round, not nearly enough to hang with Hoffman, who will attend Nevada Las Vegas.
"I couldn't get anything going all day," said Angel, who will play at Arizona State. "You don't win on a course like this with a bunch of pars."
The way he started, it looked like Angel was going to be buried in a batch of bogeys. On the second hole, a 467-yard downwind par five, Angel hit a nine-iron from 170 yards for his second shot. It flew the green and landed out of bounds.
Hoffman, who became the first two-time boys' winner in the event's 25-year history, putted for an eagle. Angel salvaged a bogey. Thereafter, it was a game of catch-up and Angel didn't have the wheels. He couldn't come closer than two shots off the lead.
Hoffman won with his primary competition breathing down his neck. He played in an All-American foursome with Angel and Ted Oh of Torrance, neither of whom played in the tournament last year because of U.S. Open scheduling conflicts. Terry Noe of Sunny Hills, the 1994 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, rounded out the group.
Oh shot 70 to finish in a tie with Angel and two others.
Hoffman didn't know how close he came to a playoff. Mike Berg of San Marcos was five-under when he teed off on his final hole, the par-four sixth.
Berg, who has committed to play at USC, wasn't sure where he stood in the field, so he tried to make a birdie . . . and lost by a stroke when he three-putted from 20 feet for a 68.
Angel was essentially closed out for good on the par-five 13th. Hoffman moved to five-under with a four-iron that nearly flew into the cup and came to rest two feet from the flag for an eagle. Angel, at one-under, hit a bad tee shot and a poor pitch shot for his approach, then settled for par.
"This course doesn't have any tough holes, come on," Angel said dejectedly. "I couldn't make birdie even with a sand wedge in my hand."
Hoffman only needed a putter. He one-putted seven greens on his way to a three-under 33 on the front nine.
Westlake, led by Matt McCrite's one-under 71, finished a solid third in the team competition, eight shots behind Torrey Pines. Ross Fulgentis added a 73 and Alex Kuyumijian had a 74. All three are juniors.
"That was great work by Matt and Ross," Westlake Coach Dan McDermott said. "Matt has talent like you can't imagine."
Anthony Marciano of Royal, the 1994 Marmonte League champion, shot 72 to finish in a five-way tie for ninth. Fulgentis tied for 14th and Kuyumijian tied for 21st.
Ben Krug of Granada Hills and Sean Oriti of Grant, who each shot 78, were the only area City players other than Angel to break 80.
Birmingham's Greg Goodfried, who finished second to Angel in the individual City final, shot 84. He snapped his seven-iron on a tree branch on the first hole, then hit another player's ball--resulting in a two-shot penalty--on the second.
Hart's Steve Farris struggled to an 80 and was never in contention.
Granada Hills finished ninth and Birmingham was last in the 10-team field. The Highlanders finished at 408 and Birmingham was unable to post a team score when one of its five players was disqualified.
In the girls' competition, Cheryl Musser of Alemany finished with a 78, the low score among area entrants. She finished five shots behind winner Jenny Glasgow of Corona del Mar. Jill Kaopua of Hueneme shot 82 to finish in a tie for 16th.