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NVC’s Stewart low medalist, leads Storm past Modesto

Jordan Jacobs

Jordan Jacobs of the Napa Valley College men's golf team on Monday at Chardonnay Golf Club & Vineyards in American Canyon.

It was a rocky front nine of golf for Ryan Stewart of the Napa Valley College men’s team on Monday at Chardonnay Golf Club & Vineyards.

Stewart, a freshman out of Casa Grande High School-Petaluma, had three bogeys, a double bogey, and a birdie, as he shot a 4-over-par 40 to start the day.

It didn’t take long for Stewart, playing in the third group for the Storm, to regroup and get his game back in order.

“I kind of felt like I wasn’t very confident with my putter and my irons on the front,” said Stewart. “I kind of just told myself, just to give myself some more opportunities. I kind of felt that there were more scoreable holes.

“I wish I could have taken advantage of the par-5s a little bit better today. But other than that, I’m really happy, as I gave myself opportunities. I made a few nice clutch par putts and birdie putts. It all worked out in the end.”

Stewart lowered his score over the final nine holes, and in shooting a 4-over-par 76, was the match medalist, leading Napa Valley to a 388-414 win over Modesto Junior College at the Chardonnay Classic.

The victory keeps Napa Valley undefeated in dual matches during the state’s Spring II season.

“In high school, our team was good, but it was nothing compared to this,” said Stewart, who was named all-league for Casa Grande all four years. “We’re very deep. We have a deep team, for sure. If someone doesn’t play well that day, someone else picks him up.

“We just kind of have the right guys playing well at the right time. And then when they’re not playing well, we have guys to back them up.”

Napa Valley had each of its six players in the lineup post scores in the 70s, on a sunny, warm day with temperatures in the low 90s and light breezes out of the north-northwest and west-northwest.

Keelan Cole shot 77, Chase Hascup and Joe Amoroso each had 78s, and Jordan Jacobs and Ryan Williams each had 79s for Napa Valley.

Ryan Chamblee and John Scott Senz played as individuals. They each shot 83.

“All six of those guys shot in the 70s,” said NVC coach Bob Freschi. “We didn’t quite meet our goal, of getting to the 380 mark, but we’re close. That’s what we kind of talked about at the end, with our post-match chat – hey, we’re close. But don’t take anything away. We beat our opponent, handily, and each and every one of you have dealt with adversity out there.

“But you’re able to come back and not let it compound. Yes, it could be better. Now let’s move on.”

Stewart had bogeys on the par-3, 175-yard third hole, par-4, 439-yard sixth hole, and par-5, 567-yard seventh hole. He had a double-bogey on the par-3, 149-yard fifth hole.

He birdied the 517-yard, par-5 fourth hole, as he hit driver and 5-iron from 210 yards to six feet and two-putted.

He also birdied the 389-yard, par-4 11th hole, as he hit driver, followed by a wedge from 100 yards to 30 feet and one-putted.

His only bogey on the back nine came on the par-5, 542-yard 15th hole.

Stewart made par-saving putts from seven feet on No. 13, seven feet on No. 16, and four feet on No. 17.

“I kind of settled in on the back and was more confident with my lines,” said Stewart. “I hit better strokes and they just finally found the hole.

“For the most part, I was hitting good drives. I just couldn’t put myself in position to score. I hit some greens, but I wasn’t close enough. I had a good birdie opportunity on No. 1.

“It’s easy to kind of give up or get down on yourself when you have a rough front nine. But I kept grinding, and it worked out. It was definitely windy, but also the pins were in some tricky places today. It makes it a different, a totally different hole.”

Stewart almost chipped in for birdie on the par-3, 171-yard 12th hole.

Chardonnay presents a very tough test of golf, with a combination of six par-3s, six par-4s and six par-5s.

“It’s a tough place to play, if you’re playing it for your first time, for sure,” said Stewart. “You’ve got to know where you want to be off the tee. The greens are undulated and a lot of them are huge.

“You just have got to know where you want to be off the tee and then hit greens in the right spot. And if you’re doing that, then the course is going to give you its scoring opportunities, for sure. There’s some tight holes, there’s some wide open holes, there are some big greens, and there are some small greens.

“You have got to be consistent for sure. I think that’s the key.”

Stewart is a key addition to the NVC team. The Storm is one of the top teams in Northern California.

“It’s great to see Ryan Stewart play well and be our low medalist today. Just a terrific young man, a great guy,” said Freschi. “What I love about him is you don’t know if he’s 5-over or 5-under, when you roll up and see how he’s doing and if he needs anything. His attitude and demeanor playing this game is just fabulous to watch. He’s really strong mentally.”

Stewart’s father, Rod Stewart, is the golf coach at Casa Grande.

“He’s very mature for a true freshman,” said Freschi. “He enjoys playing the game. He has a great attitude.”

Modesto was led by Vince Boyack and Drew Pritchard with 80s, Tristan Jaramillo with an 82, Dylan Sharma with an 85, and Chase Shears with an 87.

Napa Valley continues its season on Thursday, May 13 with a dual match against San Joaquin Delta College of Stockton at Chardonnay starting at 12:20 p.m.

Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019 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. 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.