He's Got Game and the Name

TIMES STAFF WRITER

When your name is Taylor Wood, it's almost as if you were born to be a golfer.

Taylor, as in Taylor Made. Wood as in fairway wood. T-Wood as in . . . uh, we'll stay away from that comparison.

Still, nobody knows it more than Wood, a junior at Santa Margarita High. Perhaps that is the reason he set lofty goals as he began this season.

Like many top prep golfers, Wood wanted to win league, Southern Section and CIF-SCGA titles. What separates Wood from the others, however, is the way he wanted to win them.

He wanted to break records.

Wood came up short in that bid, but he made an impressive run and is the Times' Orange County golfer of the year.

That, too, was one of his goals.

"I entered the season with very high goals," Wood said. "To me, there really isn't any point in playing without high goals. Those things didn't quite happen, but I'm pretty pleased with my season."

Wood, who averaged 37.04 during the regular season, turned it up a notch in the playoffs. His county-best 70.6 postseason average included three rounds in the 60s.

He was medalist at the Southern individual regional with a 69 at Green River and birdied three of the last four holes to shoot 67 in the Southern Section Individual championships at Canyon Country Club in Palm Springs. He finished third, missing a playoff by one shot.

He struggled on the front nine at the CIF-SCGA championships, but again birdied three of the final four holes and shot 72. Playing well in the postseason pleased Wood, but missing out on the major team titles was a letdown.

"To me, high school golf is a team thing," said Wood, whose team had to settle for the section's South Coast Divisional title. "So I'm a little bit disappointed in that aspect."

Wood fostered his individual goals last season when he was the No. 2 player behind Steve Conway, now at UCLA. Conway set the school record with a 36.5 scoring average and also set a CIF-SCGA record when he shot 65.

"What Steve did last year set the bar," Santa Margarita Coach Andy Sulick said. "That gave Taylor something to shoot for. He wants to be the best player in school history and he has to beat Conway to do that."

Wood struggled at the beginning of the season and bottomed out when he shot 81 in a March 13 match against Florida powerhouse Lake Highland Prep.

Wood, then ranked No. 47 in the nation, played that day with Lake Highland's Ty Tryon, then No. 5. He saw the shortcomings in his own game that were the difference in the 42 ranking spots.

"I realized that I needed to do something," Wood said. "That really motivated me. Everything in his game was very, very solid."

Wood started seeing Mesa Verde head professional Tom Sargent for swing lessons and said that turned around his season.

"I had a good summer last year and I just expected to play well," Wood said. "When I didn't, it was like a reality check. It was like someone hit me in the face. I was caught off guard by that."

Sulick points out that Conway made a big leap in the summer between his junior and senior years and said Wood's late-season performance indicates a similar improvement on the horizon.

"He's a special player and he knows he needs to keep getting better," Sulick said. "He's got all the tools to do it. He's got everything it takes to get to the next level."

Including the name.

Bill Beckington: Coach of the Year

The Sunset League was an unexpected dogfight this season, but Seckington kept his team focused enough to win a share of the league title despite a 6-4 record. It was the fourth consecutive league title and 13th in 16 years for Huntington Beach. The Oilers stayed on track through the playoffs, finishing second at the Southern team divisional and tied for fourth in the Southern Section finals. They lost a playoff with Servite for a berth in the CIF-SCGA finals.

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First Team

NICO BOLLINI

Servite Sr.

A four-time all-county selection, Bollini followed up his player-of-the-year season in 2000 with another solid performance. He won the Serra League title and shot par or better in four of five postseason events for a 72.2 average. Tied for 10th in the Southern Section finals. Has signed with USC.

NENO BOONYAPLANUN

University So.

Showed in the playoffs that he is ready to carry on the University golf tradition established by Brian Sinay and Ron Won. He shot 70 and tied for 10th at the section individual championships and his 68 at the team regionals was the second-best score in the field. He averaged 38.1 in the regular season.

SCOTT MANLEY

Santa Margarita Sr.

For the first half of the season, Manley was the best player in Orange County, highlighted by his medalist performance in a match against highly-touted Lake Highland Prep of Florida. Averaged 73.4 in the postseason and was one of five players who qualified for every postseason round. Will attend Army.

ED McGLASSON

El Modena Jr.

The best player in El Modena history, McGlasson won the Century League title by 12 shots and was medalist at the South Coast team divisional, where he shot 67. His 70.8 postseason average was second best in the county, as was his 36.68 regular-season average.

MIKE RIM

Sunny Hills Jr.

A repeat selection on the All-County team, Rim had a county-best 36.1 regular-season average. He shot a county-best 70 at the CIF-SCGA championship to tie for eighth and also finished in the top 10 at the Southern Section championships. Averaged 73 in the postseason.

TAYLOR WOOD

Santa Margarita Jr.

Player of the year makes his second consecutive all-county team. Shot 67 at the Southern Section championships, where he finished a county-best third. Was medalist in the South Regional with a 69. Averaged 37.04 in the regular season and a county-best 70.6 in the postseason.

Second Team

Andy Anderson, Huntington Beach, Sr.: Led Oilers to fourth consecutive league title with 73.6 average and averaged 72.5 in playoffs.

Steve Bullock, Santa Margarita, Jr.: A key to Santa Margarita's success, he averaged 73.0 in the postseason.

Ryan Carter, Servite, Sr.: Runner-up in Serra League finals averaged 74.6 in the postseason and qualified for every postseason event.

Matt Isaacson, Tustin, Jr.: Was medalist nine times for Tillers and shot 71 at Southern Section finals, good for 15th.

Joseph Kim, Aliso Niguel, So.: MVP of Sea View League averaged 36.7 in the regular season, 73.6 in playoffs. Was medalist in seven of eight league matches.

Peter Whang, Kennedy, Jr.: Empire League champion was consistent, shooting 73 in all three postseason rounds.

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