The boys' golfers competing in the CIF Southern Section Northern Individual Regional faced tall opposition Monday in the form of Las Posas Country Club course in Camarillo.
The narrow course frustrated La Cañada's golfers as they struggled to hit fairways throughout the day. Plenty was on the line as well, as the top-30 finishers advanced to the CIF Individual Finals, which will be played this coming Monday at the Industry Hills Golf Club's Babe Zaharias Course.
"The greens were really fast and the pins were in tough positions on undulated greens," said Jay Lim, a senior at La Cañada. "The course was more narrow than I thought, so driving the ball was really difficult."
Lim was up to the challenge, though, as he carded a three-over-par 74, which was good for a fourth-place tie — and, more importantly, good enough to move him on in the postseason.
"My driver wasn't as straight as usual," said Lim, who drives the ball low to hit as many fairways as possible. "It has been consistent all year, but it wasn't on Monday."
After struggling through the first nine holes, Lim abandoned his driver and went with his 3-wood off the tee on the back nine. He stopped worrying about distance on the smaller course and sought to just drive the ball down the middle of the fairway. The move ended up paying off, but Lim feared it was too late for him.
"After 14 holes, I thought I was out of it, but I didn't know people were going to play that badly," Lim said. "I was really anxious to see what other people shot. I was really surprised to finish fourth."
La Cañada Coach Richard Tetu saw the line to make the top 30 elevated this year. Golfers usually need to shoot a 74, at the most, to advance, but the cut was made at 77 this year.
"The scores were rather high for a qualifier because of the difficulty of the course. But [Lim] hung in there really well," said Tetu, blaming the high scores on the challenging course. "This course was so narrow that if you hit an errant drive, it cost you four strokes."
No other Spartans made the cut. Noah Bernstein's 83 tied him for 57th, Derek Patao shot an 86 for a share of 75th and Joshua Suh tied for 88th with a 92.
"Each round I get more and more nervous because they're going to take less and less players and it will be more difficult each round," Lim said. "I know I need to play my best each round to keep moving on."