Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 18, 2012

Menlo's Buchanan caps a busy week with section title

by Keith Peters

It has been a whirlwind week for Menlo School junior golfer Andrew Buchanan, who achieved three big goals during that time.

The first came a week ago when he shot a 3-under 68 and earned medalist honors in a Central Coast Section regional, helping his team qualify for the finals.

The second arrived Monday, when Buchanan competed at the U.S. Open Local Qualifying tournament at Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz. He shot a 1-under 70 and tied for third, earning a berth in the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying at Lake Merced Golf Course in Daly City on June 4. Stanford golf coach Conrad Ray, by the way, shot 74 and missed the cut.

Buchanan completed his triple play on Tuesday when he shot a 7-under 64 and earned medalist honors at the CCS Championships at Rancho Canada's West Course in Carmel Valley.

Buchanan tied the CCS record for the all-time low individual round set by Menlo's Patrick Grimes in 2010. Buchanan had five birdies and one eagle, on the par 5, 503-yard 17th when he hit drive, 6-iron and made a 25-foot putt. He finished his final three holes birdie, eagle, birdie to complete his remarkable bogey-free round.

"It's a hard call on which is better," said Menlo coach Dave Buchanan, on whether the U.S. Open qualifying was bigger than his son's CCS title. "The U.S. Open is huge because there were four PGA current tour card holders in the field, including Joseph Bramlett, whom Andrew read about growing up and met at Stanford.

"On the other hand, a high school goal was always to win the CCS Championship and to do it in record-tying fashion against teams like RLS, Carmel and Palma that all play Rancho Canada a lot is a huge win."

While Buchanan qualified for the NorCal Championships next Monday at Butte Creek Country Club in Chico, his teammates will not be joining him. The Knights shot 382 and finished fifth as a team, with only the top three teams advancing.

Menlo's score established a team record for the all-time low round (in which five scores are used) at the section championships, but it fell five strokes behind third-place Palma.

R.L. Stevenson won the team title with a 366 total, followed by Mitty (375) and Palma (377). St. Francis was fourth (381) with Menlo a stroke back.

"We were disappointed that we came close as a team and did not quite make it," Dave Buchanan said. "The three (Menlo) boys that all shot in the 80s were, in particular, despondent as they felt they let the team down. Three seniors are moving on and they will not play golf in college, so they were able to reflect back positively on their high school golf experience and they were reviewing the great memories on the van ride home.

"The team was very happy to make it to the second round, so it was note a huge letdown. One senior said: 'Great, now twice in my high school carerr Menlo has the individual champion who shoots 64 and we, as a team, still can't move on.' Teenage boys can be brutally honest."

Menlo freshman Ethan Wong shot a 3-over 74 to finish 17th in the field of 65. He finished strong by going 1-under over his final four holes. Senior Will Petit shot a 76, his personal best over 18 holes in his final prep appearance. He was 1-under on his front nine. Senior Jackson Dean shot 82 and junior Max Garnick completed Menlo's scoring with an 86.

Sacred Heart Prep freshman Derek Ackerman just missed an individual berth after shooting a 2-over 73 (the cut was 71) while teammates Kevin Knox and Bradley Knox shot 74 and 75, respectively. The Gators finished seventh in the team race with a score of 390 as Andrew Vetter shot 82 and Zach Lamb an 86.

Menlo-Atherton had three individuals competing and all three came up short of advancing as Max Culhane and Travis Anderson both shot 77 and Matt Tinyo finished with an 81.

Palo Alto's Sam Niethammer also failed to move on after shooting 80.

Andrew Buchanan now has a couple of Mondays to look forward to, first NorCals and then the next stage of the U.S. Open. The CIF state championships also are a possibility.

"The U.S. Open now goes to a sectional site where there are 90 players for four spots," said Dave Buchanan. "The second and final round of the U.S. Open qualification will be a really tough field and Andrew is totally pumped to be going there. If he does not move on in U.S. Open qualifying, then no one will remember he made it to sectionals. The CCS Championship win will always be in the record books. As I was looking through the archives last night, (I) saw several names that we recognize, one who is a pro at our local golf club. So, that is a piece of history."

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