Daily Pilot High School Male Athlete of the Week: Edison’s Pete DiBernardo looking forward, not back

Pete DiBernardo has led the Edison High boys' golf team to 16-1 overall and 7-0 in the Sunset League.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

In sports, a short memory serves to benefit those who have more games left to be played.

A jump shooter keeps throwing up shots until they shoot themselves out of a slump.

In baseball, a pitcher refocuses on location in the immediate aftermath of a mistake pitch.

The long and short of it is that if the past defines the athlete, they will be relegated to less than their potential.

At this time last year, Pete DiBernardo, then a sophomore boys’ golfer at Huntington Beach High, was tearing up the Sunset League. He went into the league finals tournament as the favorite to win the MVP.

Then it all went wrong. He shot rounds of 78 and 79 at league finals, and he failed to qualify for CIF as an individual. Although he was still a first-team all-league selection, he was surpassed by Newport Harbor’s Ethan Barnes for the MVP honor.

DiBernardo could lament the day, but he realizes that there is a lot of golf left to be played.

“It’s kind of just a lesson learned,” DiBernardo said. “Both of those rounds, they don’t really bother me that much. You just learn from it and play aggressive.”

DiBernardo got his start in golf in the summer following his seventh-grade school year. He attended a camp at Meadowlark Golf Club.

One player he looked up to was former Marina Viking Ramiz Jamal, who now plays for UC Irvine. DiBernardo called Jamal one of the purest ball strikers he has ever seen.

Now a junior at Edison, DiBernardo has drawn praise from his new coach, Brendan Patch. The 22-year head of the Chargers lauded DiBernardo for his ability to hit the ball straight and true.

DiBernardo said he can hit his driver about 285-290 yards, and he excels with approach shots.

“I’m more of a strategy-type player,” DiBernardo said. “I like to flight my golf ball, especially with the irons. I’m a pretty good wedge player, too.”

A golfer’s short memory is tested on the greens, but the short game could be considered the key to low scores for the Chargers’ ace.

“Sometimes, I’m a little streaky with the putter, but when I get it going, I can definitely go low,” he said.

Asked to name a PGA Tour comparison for himself, DiBernardo likened his game to that of Rory McIlroy.

“He’s a good iron player, and he just won the Arnold Palmer Invitational,” DiBernardo said. “He had the putter hot there. That’s why he won. I’m kind of similar to that.”

In his first year with the Chargers, DiBernardo leads the team with five medalist performances in 15 starts. The Chargers have cruised to a 16-1 overall record, going 7-0 to start league.

As the numbers suggest, the credit belongs to several golfers for Edison’s dominance this spring.

Patch first heard the news that he would be getting three transfer students with the same last name in June.

The DiBernardo triplets — Pete, Tony and Vito — were on their way, coming in from the other side of town where they had attended Huntington Beach.

Throughout the offseason, the Chargers assumed that the DiBernardos would be subject to a 30-day sit-out period. Returning players on the team joked that Patch should fix the schedule so that no league matches came up within that time frame.

Patch told his team he only wished he had that pull in league circles, but in the end, it would not matter.

The triplets did not have to sit out to begin the season. Pete DiBernardo said he and his brothers had a change of residency, and they decided to transfer to Edison because the school was closer to their new house.

If he has not enjoyed his best team, Patch is certain he has been treated to his deepest.

“I’ve had some successful teams,” Patch said. “In 2006, I won the CIF Southern Divisional. In 2007, I had a team that won state.

“This team, I’ve got way more players than those teams. Maybe not at the highest levels, where I had players who were consistently shooting two- or three-under par on those teams, but I’ve got seven guys right now that are going to shoot 39 or better.”

Edison did not graduate anyone from its starting six last year, and that has led to a filled-out roster. The Chargers have had five different medalists, and a sixth (John Oatis) played the lowest round in a match when he was not among the starters.

Pete DiBernardo (5), Anthony Dao (4), Tony DiBernardo (2), Vito DiBernardo (2) and Tiger Tahvildari (2) have produced the medalist performances.

“With the influx of the triplets, it kind of provided a means of competition that last year’s varsity team didn’t necessarily have,” Patch said. “There was no fear of losing their spot on the team because the next best golfers in the program were three or four strokes behind them.

“That all changed this year. The kids, to a player, have risen to the challenge and are all playing better this year.”

Pete DiBernardo worked with Doug Tambara, a former Huntington Beach coach, when he was getting his start. Although he did not begin playing golf until middle school, DiBernardo does not believe that he lost valuable time. All he can focus on is the fairway in front of him.

“You can honestly start at any age, and it’s just how much you work at it,” said DiBernardo, adding that he has talked to the University of San Diego, Loyola Marymount University and UCI about playing on the next level. “You have to focus on every step because you never know where you can go.”

As for where he hopes he can go, DiBernardo said that he would like to make a run at state this year.



Pete DiBernardo

Born: April 10, 2001

Hometown: Huntington Beach

Height: 6 feet 1

Weight: 145 pounds

Sport: Golf

Year: Junior

Coach: Brendan Patch

Favorite food: Pepperoni pizza

Favorite movie: “Now You See Me 2”

Favorite athletic moment: As a sophomore at Huntington Beach last year, DiBernardo enjoyed the feeling of sinking a 15-foot birdie putt in front of an estimated 15-20 people versus Newport Harbor. He shot four under for his round that day.

Week in review: DiBernardo placed third in the Villa Park Tournament at Yorba Linda Country Club on Monday. He shot a one-over-par 72 in the tough, windy conditions.

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner