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Garrison Chavez finishes 6th in section; only local qualifier for SoCal Regionals

Garrison Chavez overcame two bogies on consecutive holes on the back nine to advance to the SoCal Regionals with an even-par-72, finishing sixth overall in the Central Section boys golf team and individual championship on Monday at River Island Country Club.

Chavez is the lone Kern County golfer to advance to the CIF Southern California Regionals, scheduled for May 25 at Brookside Country Club in Pasadena. Stockdale’s Dheer Patel missed the cut for the top-12 individual golfers to SoCal by one stroke with a 4-over-par 76.

“I’m super pumped; I’m thrilled,” said Chavez, who just missed qualifying for the SoCal regionals last year. “I finally did it after three straight years of (ending season) at Valley. I’m very happy.”

Despite being the lone local to qualify, Chavez wasn’t alone on Monday.

His parents, grandparents, a cousin and his older brother were on hand at each hole. His older brother, Christian, advanced to So-Cal as a junior at Liberty in 2013 and was on hand Monday.

“I was more pumped about this than he was,” Christian said. “I knew he was playing well enough to qualify, but at one point we thought maybe he could win it all.”

Coach Kirk Bowyer felt that Chavez’ time to move on was coming.

“It makes you tingle because last year he was so frustrated from being so close,” Bowyer said. “For him to punch a ticket to go down to Southern California regionals, which is big deal. His brother did it a couple years ago. It’s big for him.”

For Chavez, the first thought of being in contention for the individual title came after he made eagle on the sixth hole to move to 2-under.

“My tee shot was solid, I knew I had a chance to do it in two,” Chavez said. “The four-iron set it up the way I wanted it to and the putt was down hill. I just had to get it started.”

But bogeys on holes 10, 14 and 15 pushed him to 1-over.

“I’ve always felt that I am not done fighting until after my last ball is in the hole,” Chavez said. “I will keep fighting because you never know what can happen.”

Chavez birdied the following hole and finished with two pars and a big smile after walking off 18.

“Today was fun,” Chavez said. “I didn’t hit the ball the way I wanted to; it was a challenge. It was great to have people here coming out and showing me support. It made me want to play better for them.”

Bowyer added, “He’s a guy that grinds it out at the end of the season. He knows what he wants to do and how he wants to attack the golf course. He’s got a plan and he’s such a good mental golfer.”

Liberty finished sixth overall as sophomore Dakota Ochoa added a 5-over 77.