Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 29, 2011

He picked the right sport

Menlo's Grimes, who gave up tennis for golf, leads Knights to title

by Keith Peters

Patrick Grimes was a decent tennis player all through middle school. Menlo School boys' tennis coach Bill Shine thought he might even entice Grimes to play for him one day.

Grimes, however, had another passion and that was golf.

"I remember asking him in sixth grade what his handicap was," Shine recalled. "He said he was a three. Imagine that, a three handicap in sixth grade."

That's why Grimes isn't playing tennis for Shine these days. Instead, he's playing for Menlo School golf coach Dave Buchanan, who was very happy with how Grimes played Wednesday during a showdown for the West Bay Athletic League title with rival Sacred Heart Prep.

Despite suffering a double-bogey six on the downhill, 396-yard first hole, Grimes regrouped quickly with four birdies and finished with a 2-under 34 on the front nine of the tough, narrow tree-lined Sharon Heights Country Club course.

With sophomore Andrew Buchanan shooting 39 and senior Bobby Pender adding a 41, the Knights rolled to their first-ever West Bay Athletic League title with a 205-217 victory over the Gators. Menlo finished 10-0 while SHP ended 8-2 (10-2).

The Knights had clinched no worse than a tie for the league crown a day earlier by beating Harker and thus had a trip to a Central Coast Sectional regional on May 11 locked up before facing SHP.

"Win or lose, we were going to CCS," said Dave Buchanan, in his first season as the Knights' head coach (and the father of Andrew).

For Grimes, the league title and sub-par round was a good way to begin wrapping up his stellar prep career.

"I've struggled here in the past, so it was nice to break through in my last league match," said Grimes. "I may have shot 44 out here in my freshman year, I'm not sure. But, I know I've shot 42, so it's been a little bit of a nemesis track for me."

The tight, hilly course at Sharon Heights appeared to have gotten Grimes once again when he drove it left on the first hole and had to punch out from under the redwood trees. He flew the green on his third shot and chipped past the hole before taking two putts for an unsightly six on the par-4.

"I was thinking it would be a long day," Grimes said in regards to his opening hole. "That's the first time I've ever gone left. Usually I struggle over the last four holes.

Grimes, however, went from possibly posting his worst score at Sharon Heights to recording his best. He parred the second, birdied the par-5 third, got another birdie on the uphill 327-yard par-4 fourth, parred the next two holes before getting another birdie on the tight 338-yard seventh. He saved par on the eighth before closing out with a birdie 3 on the uphill 368-yard ninth.

When Grimes and Pender finished their round, the Knights held a 10-stroke lead over the SHP tandem of junior Kevin Knox and his brother, freshman Bradley. After the second group finished, Menlo's Jackson Dean (44) and Buchanan had increased the Knights' lead to 21 strokes. Junior James Huber (47) put the finishing touches on the victory.

"The scores were a little higher than normal," said Dave Buchanan, "but this is a tough course."

This was only the second time Menlo had played at Sharon Heights this season, the first time being a practice round.

Sacred Heart Prep also shot higher than normal as senior Spencer Lamb and Bradley Knox finished with 42s.

"I think the magnitude of the match might have gotten to the players," said SHP coach Mark Dowdy, whose team now has to win Monday's WBAL Tournament at Menlo Country Club in order to advance with Menlo to CCS action. The top three individuals not on a qualifying team also will advance to CCS.

Menlo, meanwhile, can use Monday's tourney as a practice. That means Grimes can enjoy himself during Admit Weekend at Stanford, where prospective students can make their final commitment to the school. Grimes is already signed, sealed and delivered and looking forward to playing for the Cardinal golf team next season.

He'll get a sneak peak at the team this weekend as Stanford hosts the Pac-10 Championships.

Elsewhere in prep golf this week:

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn defeated Homestead on Wednesday, 187-213, at Sunnyvale Municipal Golf Course to finish 8-2-2 in the division. Gunn's Avinash Sharma was medalist with a 2-under-par 33. Teammate Anson Cheng, a freshman, shot 36 for the Titans, who clinched the division crown a day earlier by defeating Fremont, 192-207, at Sunnyvale Muni.

Gunn took care of Fremont as sophomore Sharma, Cheng and Herbert Sadler-Wong all shot 2-over 37s. They'll lead the Titans into the SCVAL Championships next Monday and Tuesday at San Juan Oaks in Hollister. The top two teams will qualify for CCS.

In the Peninsula Athletic League, Menlo-Atherton qualified for CCS on Tuesday during a playoff with Burlingame and Terra Nova at windy Poplar Creek Golf Course in San Mateo. Carlmont earned the PAL's automatic bid to CCS by winning the regular season while M-A was one of four teams that needed to battle for the second berth.

When Aragon was unable to field the required five golfers for the playoffs, that left three teams. The Bears got off to a shaky start but sophomore Matt Tinyo turned in a 2-over 37 from his No. 5 spot in the lineup to help lift the Bears to victory.

With junior Travis Anderson shooting a 1-over 36 and junior Max Culhane adding a 38, Menlo-Atherton shot 196 to hold off Burlingame (200) and Terra Nova (225). M-A senior McKinley Mathon added a 42 and junior David McNamara shot 43 to round out the Bears' scoring.

Menlo-Atherton next will play as a team in one of two CCS regionals, set for May 10-11 at Rancho Canada in Carmel Valley. The Bears also can qualify individuals out of the PAL Tournament, which offers seven spots to the section regional.

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