Pali High Boys Golf Edges Granada Hills 383-384 to Regain City Championship
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
There is a saying in sports that it is hard to beat a good team three times in a season. Well, how about four?
That was the challenge facing the Palisades High boys golf team at the City Section Championships on June 2 at Harding Golf Course in Griffith Park. The Dolphins had won both head-to-head matchups with Granada Hills, then topped the Highlanders again at League Finals, however Palisades’ first-year coach Dave Suarez warned his team not to be overconfident—for anything can happen on any given day.
As the scores started coming in it became clear that Granada Hills had brought its ‘A’ game, led by senior Leo Chung, who earned medalist honors with a 3-under par 69.
Yet by the time all of the groups had returned to the clubhouse the Dolphins had regained the crown by the narrowest of margins, 383-384—one measly stroke less than the defending champions. All six players in Palisades’ lineup shot in the 70s, meaning each of them was 7-over or better over 18 holes.
“Every stroke counts, whether you’re in the first group or the last group,” said Suarez, who coached the girls squad to second place at City Finals in Encino a day before. “The biggest battle was with ourselves. Today we didn’t have our best round and yet still won, which shows how good we are. We have a deep team and everyone contributed to this win.”
Playing in Chung’s foursome was Pali High senior captain Charlie Lovett, who carded a 75, and one group behind was junior Bill Enkhbold, whose 1-under 71 was the second lowest score of the day.
“It was fun to play alongside Leo [Chung],” said Lovett, who had tap-in birdies at No. 6 and No. 18 and chipped in for a birdie at 13. “We were second my freshman and sophomore years and the season was canceled last year because of COVID-19, so this is the first time I’ve experienced winning City.”
Lovett, who played in AYSO growing up while attending Canyon Elementary and Paul Revere Middle School, began playing golf competitively in ninth grade and took third as a sophomore.
Enkhbold drained a 10-footer for birdie at No. 7 and also birdied 18. He bogeyed No. 10 but parred all the rest on a course he is quite familiar with.
“I’ve played here since I was 10 years old and used to live seven miles from here, so I know it like the back of my hand,” Enkhbold said. “This equals my best on this course but I could’ve played even better. I missed five putts within 10 or 12 feet.”
The Dolphins’ last four players shot 79s—sophomore Alec Lam, senior Noah Mirza, sophomore Kourey Patterson and junior Jaden Vann. Only the top five scores are counted towards the team total.
Granada Hills’ first three players built up solid a 10-shot lead but the Highlanders’ last three players shot 81, 93 and 88, respectively, and even dropping the lowest score they had to settle for the runner-up medals. Both Palisades and Granada Hills qualified for the Southern California Regional Tournament at Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena on June 15.
It was the Dolphins’ 20th City title and first since 2017. Suarez took over the boys and girls programs this year from James Paleno and admitted coaching both teams simultaneously was difficult.
“It was five days a week for me but it was worth it,” said Suarez, a Palisades alum who has coached the Dolphins his alma mater to six City titles (three in girls volleyball, one in boys volleyball, one in boys soccer and now boys golf, He hopes to add girls golf next fall.
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