Three NVC golfers advance to Northern California Regional Championships
By MARTY JAMES
Tuesday was a very good day for the Napa Valley College women's golf team.
Playing in the final Big 8 Conference tournament of the season, the Storm shot a season-low 399 total to finish sixth out of eight teams at Spring Creek Country Club in Ripon (San Joaquin County).
It's been the Storm's goal all season to break 400 as a team score.
"We were fired up. That's been our goal," coach Bob Freschi said. "To get it on the last match of the season, that was pretty cool."
Just as exciting was the fact that the 2019 season will continue for three of the Napa Valley players, as Jordan Lowe, Baylee Vyenielo and Ruthie Bowen, all sophomores, each qualified to play in next week's California Community College Athletic Association's Northern California Regional Championships.
"I'm proud of them," said Freschi.
The two-day, 36-hole event is Nov. 4 and 5 at Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club in Tulare County. It's a qualifier for the CCCAA State Championships, scheduled for Nov. 17-18 at Morro Bay Golf Course in San Luis Obispo County.
"We're grinding it out and improving," Freschi said. "Anything can happen. You just never know how the field is doing. We just need to take care of our business.
"All three know what it takes to make it to states – and that's their goal. Our goal for them is to shoot your season low. If they can do that, they'll put themselves in decent shape to make it to states."
Lowe led Napa Valley at Spring Creek, shooting an 85. She was followed by Bowen with a 92 and Vyenielo with a 99.
Reedley College, the champion of the Big 8 Conference, won with a 339 total. Modesto Junior College finished second and Sierra (Rocklin) was third in the conference standings.
Napa Valley finished sixth in a Big 8 tournament on Oct. 24 at Elkhorn Golf Club in Stockton. Lowe led the Storm with an 86 and was followed by Vyenielo (100) and Bowen (105).
Napa Valley played in nine conference tournaments.
"Ruthie was on the outside, looking in, the last three matches. She finished strong," said Freschi. "It came down to her last match (Tuesday). She had to shoot a 95 or better, and she ended up shooting a 92, to get into the NorCal Championships. I'm really proud of her and pleased with her efforts. She took what we practiced during the week into (Tuesday's) match and she benefitted from it. I'm glad to see her moving on."
Lowe has played in the No. 1 spot all season for the Storm.
"Jordan was really consistent all year for us," Freschi pointed out. "I'm looking for her to have two good rounds at NorCals and to hopefully make states.
"Baylee has been consistent this year for us. The last few rounds she has improved as well. I'm extremely proud of her. It's nice to see her move on and continue her season."
Lowe, Vyenielo and Bowen will each play a practice round on Sunday at Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club.
Reedley, Modesto, Sierra, Sacramento City and San Joaquin Delta (Stockton) advanced as teams to the NorCals.
The top four teams, along with six individuals, move on to state.
"We're just going to emphasize keeping the ball in play and on the fairway and trying to eliminate those big scores," said Freschi.
Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club, which opened in 2008, is a par-72 championship course that was designed by John Fought.
Fought was the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1979 and won twice on Tour, including the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa in '79. He was on the PGA Tour from 1979 to 1985.
Fought, who is originally from Portland, Oregon, also won the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1977 at Aronimink Golf Club in Philadelphia.
He was an NCAA All-American at Brigham Young University.
Fought works as a golf course architect-designer and is based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association, Associated Press Sports Editors, and California Prep Sports Media Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame in September of 2019.