Coming off its first losses in league play in over four years, the Palo Alto High School boys’ golf team (10-2) bounced back and edged out the Cupertino Pioneers (10-4) in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League championship tuesday afternoon, 382-383.
A windy Tuesday afternoon plagued the golfers at the Santa Teresa Golf Course, as junior Ahmed Ali was the medalist (the player with the lowest score) for Paly and tallied the second lowest score of the match, just one stroke under par. Junior Andy Zhou of Gunn High School finished in just 68 strokes, good enough for medalist of the championship round.
“I had to adjust off the tee with some lower flighted shots so that the wind didn’t affect my shot,” Ali said.
Senior Timothy Liu says the win in SCVAL’s is the perfect way for the team to get their groove back.
“I was really pleased to see the way we battled together against some stiff competition, namely Cupertino, and it also gives me a great sense of relief to know we have a group of young guys that can keep the success going for many years to come,” Liu said. “Winning leagues was also a great confidence boost for us coming off of our first two losses in league play in 5 years, so hopefully, we can turn this into the start of a new winning streak.”
Despite the difficult conditions, the Vikings were able to hang on to a slender advantage and eke out another SCVAL title over Cupertino.
Next week, Palo Alto heads into the Central Coast Section playoffs in both team and individual events. Ali says the Vikings are in an excellent position to make a deep playoff run.
“We are playing well going into CCS, so we are feeling great,” Ali said. “We know we can shave a couple strokes off our score, which would put us in a great position to advance further in CCS.”
Palo Alto lost three starting seniors this year, but have had younger players step up and pick up the lost slack.
“We’ve got a couple of really talented juniors in Ahmed Ali and Sergi Mata that can hopefully help shoulder the load for us, but we each know what we need to shoot in order to advance,” Liu said. “We have a couple freshmen playing as well so it will be good for them to get their first taste of CCS action so early in their high school careers. Ideally, we can win the first round and move on to CCS Finals, but either way, I’m sure it will be a fantastic learning experience for our team.”
Last year, the Vikings advanced to the CCS finals before falling to Bellarmine, but Ali still qualified for the NorCal state tournament as an individual player.
The CCS golf format includes a group match setting, where Palo Alto will face off against nine of the best golf teams around the Bay Area starting next Tuesday at Laguna Seca Country Club in Monterey, as well as an individual tournament, pitting the best players in the area against each other.