A year ago at this time, Erik Hott, Matteo Bonales and other high-school athletes from the Sac-Joaquin Section had their sports seasons cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Playoffs were canceled in response to public safety concerns.
Hott and Bonales both had memorable showings while competing in the postseason this past week. They secured individual berths to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament by virtue of their standouts performances at Divisionals.
“This is the best I’ve played all year,” said Hott, a senior from Ceres High School.
“I’m happy,” Bonales said. “It’s my last year of high-school golf. If I get past Masters that would be the furthest anyone’s gone from Central Valley High School.”
Hott claimed the Division-IV title.
Bonales won a five-man sudden-death playoff for the Division-III tournament’s sixth and final individual qualifying spot to Masters.
“I do think a lot of people were shocked. They didn’t know what my full potential was. For me, I set the bar high. I met my expectation.”Erik Hott
“I do think a lot of people were shocked,” Hott said. “They didn’t know what my full potential was. For me, I set the bar high. I met my expectation.”
“Matteo crushed his drives, and had fantastic approach shots, leaving himself birdie opportunities on both holes,” Hawks’ head coach Scott Edwards stated. “This allowed him the ability to be patient on the green and let the other golfers make mistakes. It was a great strategy that obviously played out well for him.”
“I knew if I didn’t win the playoff I wouldn’t be able to play again,” Bonales added. “There was pressure. I tend to play better when there’s pressure.”
Hott shot a 1-under-par 71 at the Division-IV event, staged on May 9 at Mather Golf Course in Sacramento.
He had five birdies, nine pars and four bogeys.
“It feels good to get that low round,” Hott said. “I’m a competitive person. I like to win.”
“The greens were a little faster,” he added. “I got pretty lucky with a couple shots.”
Hott cemented his legacy as one of Ceres High’s greatest male golfers.
“I don’t know how many kids from Ceres that have taken first at Divisionals,” Bulldogs’ head coach Ron Edwards stated. “Erik said he was going to do it. He surprised me. He played great.”
Hott carded a 74 during a practice round at Del Rio leading up to Divisionals.
“I went into the tournament really confident,” he said. “The course is similar to Creekside. I’ve played there most of my life. It’s a course I could attack.”
Bonales fired a 4-over-par 76 following 18 holes of play at the Division-III tourney, staged on May 9 at Sacramento’s Bing Maloney Golf Course.
He shot par on both the No. 17 and 18 holes while outplaying four other competitors during the sudden-death playoff. He had birdie-attempt opportunities.
“I’ve played in situations like that before,” Bonales said. “I stayed calm and composed. I put pressure on them.”
Bulldog junior Jayson Homsombath shot an 89 at Divisionals.
“He was pretty excited to make it that far,” Ron Edwards said. “He deserved it. He’ll do better next year.”