Knapp, Trauthen play on

LONG BEACH – Tanner Trauthen played Skylinks Golf Course twice before, but never with what was at stake Monday.

The Corona del Mar High senior played well enough in the CIF Southern Section Southern Individual Regional boys' golf tournament, shooting a four-over-par 76 to join Estancia junior Jake Knapp as the two Newport-Mesa golfers to continue this postseason.

Knapp shot two-over 74 to tie for 12th and, along with Trauthen, were two of 37 golfers from a field of 102 to qualify for Monday's CIF Southern Section Individual Championship at Industry Hills Golf Club's Babe Zaharias Course.

CdM junior John Davenport shot 78, but missed the cut by one stroke. Newport Harbor junior Carter Norris shot 79 and Norris' teammate, senior Zach Eddy, shot 82.

Only three players broke par on the 6,800-yard, par-72 layout.

Trauthen took the event in stride.

"I just played how I normally play; not do anything stupid and take what the course gives you," he said. "I didn't feel that much pressure. It was a bit more pressure [than at Pacific Coast League finals]. The competition is better and you're playing with people you've never met."

Knapp was an exception in that regard. He and UCLA-teammate-to-be, Servite senior Preston Valder, played in the same group. Knapp, the Orange Coast League champion, has verbally committed to UCLA.

Cerritos senior Kevin Lee earned medalist honors with a four-under 68 while Valder and Mater Dei's Brian Campbell each shot 70.

Players teed off beginning at 7 a.m. in shotgun format. Calm conditions prevailed for much of the tournament, but players faced moderate wind gusts on the finishing holes.

Trauthen said putting was difficult. Players had to manage contoured greens on many holes.

Knapp, reached by phone after the round, eagled the par-four first hole. He said the tees were moved up, making the hole 290 to 300 yards. Knapp hit three-wood to 15 feet of the hole and made the subsequent putt. He added two birdies, but struggled getting into a rhythm.

"I struggled all day on the greens," Knapp said. "I had short putts I normally don't miss. Low numbers were out there."

"The greens were more receptive than I thought they were going to be," Trauthen said. "I had some shots that spun 20, 30 feet back."

Trauthen's one birdie came at the par-five third hole. His third shot from 90 yards stopped two feet from the hole and he made the birdie putt.

"He made shots when he needed to," CdM Coach Mike Starkweather said. "The course was fair, but when the wind came up it made it more difficult."

"The course played tough," said Estancia Coach Art Perry, who followed Knapp. "The pin placements were tough."

Knapp will be vying for a return trip to the CIF SCGA Tournament the week after next, which is the precursor to the CIF State Tournament. He played the Babe Zaharias Course two months ago.

"It is a tough course; it's narrow, demanding off the tee and the greens are undulated," Knapp said.

Trauthen said he played the course a week ago and shot 73 on what he called "one of my best ball-striking days." He said it would be a challenge.

"I wouldn't voluntarily play that course," Trauthen said.

Starkweather said Trauthen's game has come along this season.

"He's improved dramatically, especially since committing to a driver of choice," Starkweather said. "I know he is serious about college golf."

It's about to get more serious.

Tee off in the CIF Southern Section Individual Championship is set for 8:30 a.m. Monday.

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