LOMPOC — Estancia High sophomore Jake Knapp found the perfect motivation to stay alive in the postseason for boys' golf. Follow the leader.
Knapp played in the same group as defending champion Patrick Cantlay of Servite in the CIF Southern Section Individual Championship. It helped, as Knapp finished third at the La Purisima Golf Course in Lompoc to advance to next week's CIF SCGA Tournament, the precursor to the CIF State Championship.
Corona del Mar sophomore Mike Moorhead advanced to the SCGA tourney for the second straight year after carding a one-over-par 73 for fourth.
Cantlay, a senior bound for UCLA, successfully defended his title with a 68.
Knapp wasn't that far behind, as he tied for second at 72 with senior Chris Blystone from St. Joseph's of Santa Maria.
Blystone beat Knapp in a one-hole playoff, as he sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-four No. 18, Knapp said. Blystone wasn't a stranger to the course, as he lives 20 minutes from La Purisima, Knapp said.
Still, Knapp, who made par on the playoff hole, was pleased to advance to play at the SCGA Golf Course in Murrieta June 3.
Last year he shot a 79, three strokes from moving on.
"It helped me to play with [Cantlay]," Knapp said during a telephone interview. "He played better than me. He made a birdie on the second hole and I was chasing him all day. I think it was good. It was motivating me to keep on making birdies."
Knapp finished with three birdies and three bogeys, battling windy conditions. He was one-over 37 on the front and one-under on the back.
Knapp, the Orange Coast League champion, moves on with confidence. He's not concerned with the pressure that could come for achieving success early in his high school career.
"I don't think of it as more pressure on me," he said. "It's because I definitely expect myself to play well. I've been paying real well recently. I don't think there's any reason why I shouldn't play well next [Thursday]."
Knapp stayed smooth and consistent throughout his round Monday, Estancia Coach Art Perry said. After advancing Perry realizes expectations will rise for Knapp, especially since he had tied for second.
"He's the guy to beat in the future," Perry said of Knapp, while also acknowledging Moorhead will be a contender. "There's a lot of talent coming out of the Newport-Mesa area."
John Davenport, another sophomore for CdM, shot an 82, while Newport Harbor junior Zach Eddy finished at 83. The cutoff to advance was 77.
Davenport responded well after a rough front nine, where he was nine-over 45, CdM Coach Mike Starkweather said. He went one-over 37 on the back.
"That course had some serious teeth to it," Starkweather said.
Moorhead, the Pacific Coast League champion, certainly didn't back down, as he had four birdies and five bogeys. After qualifying for the CIF SCGA Tournament last year, he entered this year's event wanting to win it. He was also motivated by Cantlay, but Moorhead didn't just want to stay with him. He wanted to beat Cantlay, recently named the Trinity League Male Athlete of the Year.
"I didn't really feel pressure," Moorhead said of trying to repeat last year's feat. "I wasn't really focusing on making it through this stage because I was only thinking of medaling.
"I'm happy, but I still have another stage to go through which is state and that's the ultimate."
Moorhead shot a two-over 74 at last year's CIF SCGA Tournament and did not advance to the CIF State Championship.
— From staff reports