St. Francis High’s Matt Heitel endured a rough round in his first appearance at the Northern California boys golf championships, shooting a seven-over-par 79, but coach Phil Marrone said there’s always next year – and the year after that.
After all, Heitel is only 15.
“It was obviously a frustrating round for him, but he stayed focused and positive and he did what he could do. What more can a coach ask for?” Marrone said. “Also, it’s easy for me to forget he’s only a sophomore. There’s more where this came from. It’s going to be fun to watch. ”
The coach raved about Heitel’s rapid rise this season, highlighted by his second-place finish at the Central Coast Section championships a week earlier. Only the top four individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to last week’s NorCal event, held at the Sierra View Country Club in Roseville.
Heitel said he had never played the course before – or even heard of it prior to qualifying – and was “going in blind.” Competitors were not allowed to play a practice round, but they could walk the course the day prior to the May 19 event.
“I just want to get out there and play my game,” Heitel said before NorCal. “I don’t focus on my expectations. I hope to play some good golf.”
Heitel’s 79, good for 41st place, included four bogeys and two double-bogeys. His lone birdie came on the par-5 fourth hole, which has a distance of 484 yards.
“He played pretty well from tee to green, but the greens were small and often protected by overhanging trees, so he missed more greens than normal,” Marrone said. “The greens were pretty fast and many of the pins were close to the edges, where the slopes were more severe, so the chips and putts were tough, and that’s what ran his score up.”