Aiming to qualify

Mike Moorhead was on his way home from Pleasanton Thursday when he began to zero in on his next golf tournament. The one he just wrapped up, Moorhead wanted to forget.

Moorhead finished the American Junior Golf Assn. Trader Joe's Junior Championship with a three-round total of 218, eight shots over par and too many behind to be in contention.

The three days Moorhead spent in the Bay Area were supposed to be a tune-up for the U.S. Amateur Sectional Qualifying event at Big Canyon Country Club on Monday. What Moorhead learned was his game is a little rusty.

The timing is not ideal.

Moorhead takes a stab at his second chance to reach the U.S. Amateur Championship in as many years. The incoming Corona del Mar High junior came close last year at Big Canyon before finishing one stroke behind the three players who qualified for the tournament.

The top three advance again to the U.S. Amateur Championship, which will be at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash., Aug. 23-29. Moorhead's goal is to make it.

Moorhead is one of two of CdM Coach Mike Starkweather's standouts vying for a chance. Close to 80 competitors are slated to play three rounds on Monday. The first group tees off at 7 a.m.

Starkweather believes Moorhead and his high school teammate, junior John Davenport, have as good as chance as anybody in the field.

"They certainly know that course," said Starkweather as both Moorhead and Davenport are members of Big Canyon.

Other locals in the tournament are Costa Mesa resident Ryan Knapp (Orange Coast College), Newport Beach resident Stewart Hagestad (USC), Corona del Mar resident Will Tipton and Costa Mesa resident Mike Carpenter.

A notable golfer not from the Newport-Mesa area includes Scott Travers (Santa Clara). The Trabuco Canyon resident won the 99th California State Amateur Championship last month and the 11th SCGA Amateur Championship earlier this month. The last time someone won both events in the same year was in 1942.

Travers also set the SCGA Amateur scoring record with a 16-under-par 268. Travers broke Tigers Woods' 14-under-par 270 set in 1994, his first SCGA Amateur victory.

Moorhead and Davenport are well aware of this year's field at the U.S. Amateur Sectional Qualifier.

"The field is stronger than last year," Moorhead said. "I have a little bit of an advantage because I play at Big Canyon a lot and Big Canyon is a course you need know before you play it. I need to find my game and get off to a good start."

The day for the golfers will be a long one as they play 36 holes.

Davenport said he feels confident heading into the event. Last year, while Moorhead was in the hunt, things got away from Davenport.

"The scores I had aren't publishable," Davenport joked. "I started rooting for Mike. He was in it until the last few holes."

Moorhead hopes to be in the running again.

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